A $13.5 million lawsuit has been filed against Clackamas County by the mother of a man who died while in the custody of the Clackamas County Jail of an apparent drug overdose. The victim’s name was Bryan Perry, a U.S. Army veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart. He was 31 when he was pronounced dead at Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center early on the morning of Nov. 4, 2016.
Also named as defendants in the suit are Corizon Health Inc., the company with which the county contracts for medical services at the jail, and a number of Corizon and Clackamas County current or former employees—mainly, Corizon nurses and county correctional officers. The lawsuit, which you can read in its entirety here, claims Corizon, the county and their employees were negligent to the medical needs of Bryan Perry as he suffered from the effects of a lethal cocktail of drugs, including methamphetamines, bath salts and heroin, according to deputies’ reports.
The most sensational aspect of the case are two cellphone videos released by Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts this week. In the two clips, several deputies can be heard laughing, joking and making callous remarks about Perry’s condition, including suggesting that he be put in a cage and wheeled into schools as part of a D.A.R.E. presentation and asking if he’d “tried to eat anybody’s face yet.”
Sheriff Roberts said the comments and laughter were “inappropriate, and do not conform to our professional standards.” He said he has investigated the matter and taken disciplinary action against the involved employees who are still with CCSO.
The videos are disturbing, and the deputies’ behavior is initially shocking, especially in the hindsight that Mr. Perry would be dead just hours after they were taken. But that is the benefit of hindsight. Few among us really know how we might react in similar circumstances. The fact is, our tax dollars fund law enforcement precisely so we never have to find out how we’d handle someone dangerously affected by drugs or mental illness.
Of course, the deputies should have been disciplined for their actions, and they were. This is a tragic case, but hopefully, an instructive one, one that motivates our law enforcement to live up to the high standards and professionalism befitting their roles. Our deep and sincere sympathies go out to Perry’s families and loved ones.
All that said, we do think the video is important to see, and that’s why we’ve included it below. We encourage you to watch it and make your own conclusions.