Eugene Protesters Claim Maltreatment from EPD, Lane County Jail

Jul 19, 2020

 

The outside of Lane County Jail (file photo).
Credit Elizabeth Gabriel / KLCC News

Last Wednesday, five people were arrested while protesting against police brutality outside of Eugene Police Department headquarters. Now, protesters are speaking out about mistreatment while in custody.

 

According to EPD, there were about a dozen people in total, and five people were arrested after damaging lighting, art and signage at EPD Headquarters around 7:30 p.m. 

EPD said they did not use excessive force when arresting some, but protester Jamie Natasha Clark said that is not what happened. She said EPD came out of the building in SWAT gear, holding batons.

“They forcibly pushed into us and force was used on everyone detained and arrested,” said Clark.

The five arrestees were Justus Lee Armstrong (22), Megan Shay Isaacs (23), Sierra Santana Carpentino (24), Elizabeth Deffenbaugh, and Clark (40).

All of the protesters were charged with riot and criminal mischief, but Clark said her charges changed throughout the night.

Reporting from local news outlets last week only lists four arrestees. But in a message from EPD, Deffenbaugh did not show up as an arrest right away because she was not immediately logged.

According to EPD Public Information Officer Melinda McLaughlin, Deffenbaugh threw up after she was put in a patrol vehicle, and was first taken to a hospital.

“She was asked to sit down and she complied, no force was used,” wrote McLaughlin. “Once she was put into the back of the patrol vehicle she threw up. An officer called for Eugene-Springfield Fire EMS, and medics evaluated her. She was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. She was at the hospital for about four hours, and then taken to Lane County Jail and lodged.”

In a text message after the arrest, Deffenbaugh painted a different picture.

“The officer that arrested me tried to murder me,” wrote Deffenbaugh. “He [cuffed] me and locked me in a hot car with all of the windows up. He only let me out after my body shut down and I started vomiting uncontrollably.”

She said the officer later asked her to step out of the vehicle and sit on the ground until the ambulance arrived. 

Clark also said they were in EPD’s custody for a longer timeframe, and Deffenbaugh was still in poor health after arriving at the Lane County Jail.

Clark said a deputy could be heard stating that Deffenbaugh was vomiting saliva and blood.

“I heard Elizabeth state her first and last name, and that she was requesting medical attention from a doctor,” said Clark. “She was in an individual cell up the hallway from my isolation cell. Through us conversing, Elizabeth confirmed that she was being held in one of the initial cells I was in. It had no water or toilets.”

Clark said she could hear and partially see when deputies approached Deffenbaugh’s cell.

“A nurse was heard immediately stating, ‘She's fine,’ and then the doors shut and locked back,” said Clark. “Elizabeth continued to repeat her first and last name and her request for medical attention to the deputies. And the deputies continued to deny Elizabeth medical attention while acknowledging—in their words—that Elizabeth was vomiting blood.”

In an email response from Lane County Sheriff Public Information Officer, Sgt. Carrie Carver, she wrote, “inmates are provided access to phones to make calls during their dayroom time,” and all cells in housing areas have sinks and toilets. But she said there are some areas in the jail that do not.  

“The jail does have small holding rooms in the booking area that do not have sinks or toilets and are designed for short term holding,” wrote Carver.

Carver also refuted other accusations about Deffenbaugh’s health. 

 

“All individuals who are lodged at the Lane County Jail are evaluated by medical upon arrival and thereafter based on their medical needs, or if they request to see medical," wrote Carver. "Deffenbaugh was seen multiple times by jail medical staff who attempted to evaluate her and she was uncooperative with them and refused care.”

Clark also said the jail disabled her phone from 3:45am to 10:10am, after she was able to notify people about Deffenbaugh’s health while in custody. During this time, Clark said the jail prevented her from calling her lawyer and her healthcare provider.

“[An officer] had earlier told me not to worry about my life on the outside when I requested access to a phone to notify the radiologist that I would not be there for a cancer scan that was scheduled,” said Clark.

This story has been updated with responses from Lane County Jail.