A 40-year-old man who is already suing the sheriff's office for beating him in the booking area of the Multnomah County jail has a new allegation to make. He is now claiming he was the victim of a retaliatory assault by a fellow inmate—someone allegedly working in conspiracy with a sheriff's deputy.
Michael Evans filed a $60,000 lawsuit against the county and city on September 12 of this year, after his in-jail beating by sheriff's deputies and police officers was captured on video ["Summary Injustice," News, July 19].
Now, Evans alleges through his father, Roger Evans, that he was assaulted on the night of October 12 by a fellow inmate, Eric Nash, in their two-man cell. Evans claims that Deputy Brian Flanagan took Nash out and yelled at him in front of other inmates in the cell block: "I thought I told you to take care of that child molester [meaning Evans]. If you don't, I'll have to do it myself."
Evans, who has never been convicted of molesting a child, alleges Flanagan then locked Nash back in their cell. Nash then allegedly told Evans he was going to beat him on the sheriff's orders. That night, Evans was awoken by a two-and-a-half inch jail pencil being plunged two inches into his left eyesocket, between his nose and eyeball.
Nash, a 21-year-old from Dallas, Oregon, has four felony convictions and a total of 22 months of prison on his record, dating back to 2004. He was in jail awaiting sentencing for an Assault 3 charge—a felony—on the night he is alleged to have assaulted Evans in their cell, and was discharged to the US Marshal's office on October 19.
Evans alleges being denied treatment by a jail doctor for five days, until Thursday, October 18, and that the crime scene was not preserved, under orders from Acting Sergeant Michael Phelps. Phelps, it is alleged, claimed to have temporarily lost the pencil involved in the assault. It was preserved as evidence.
Since the assault, Evans has been transferred to solitary confinement, and claims to be suffering from excruciating headaches emanating from his eye. X-ray results on Tuesday, October 28, show Evans' eye socket is fractured, according to his father.
In a letter to the Mercury dated July 12, Evans had already alleged disparate treatment by jail deputies in retaliation for preparing his lawsuit. Vicki Sellin, an investigator for Evans' criminal attorney, Lawrence Taylor, has taken photographs of Evans' face and released them to him. Evans is understood to be interested in pressing an attempted murder charge against Nash, and the possibility of an accessory charge against Deputy Flanagan.
Two more alleged victims of jail beatings, Frank Coleman and Mitchell Eliot, filed tort claims against the county on September 12, appearing to point to a systemic abuse problem at the jail.
The sheriff's office is also currently investigating alleged internet postings by 10-year deputy David Thompson. According to the Portland Tribune, Thompson allegedly posted on an online forum while at work in the jail that all jail deputies were "looking for an excuse to beat someone down so they have a story to tell." The Tribune article asked, "Are inmates safe in [Sheriff Bernie Giusto's] jails?"
The FBI has already investigated Evans' first beating and forwarded its findings to the Attorney General's office in Washington ["Completely Fed Up," News, September 27]. Attempts to contact the FBI for comment on this story were unsuccessful by press time. Evans' civil attorneys at Haile Greenwald did not return calls to their office, either. Meanwhile, the sheriff's office is looking into the new allegations.
"This has been forwarded to the captain of our investigations division and a detective will be assigned to look into the case," says Deputy Travis Gullberg, a spokesman for the sheriff's office. Gullberg would not comment further, except to confirm that an inmate-on-inmate assault took place in the jail on October 12 and that the case has been forwarded to the District Attorney's office for review.
"The case has been assigned to [a deputy DA] for review," says Don Reese, at the DA's office. "It has not been decided yet."
Deputy Flanagan declined to make a statement through the sheriff's office, and Acting Sergeant Phelps could not be reached by press time.
"I'm scared to death for Michael," says Evans' mother, Anita Evans, who resides in Nevada. "The sheriff's deputies aren't being held accountable, they're covering up for each other, and I really think their mentality is that if they can get rid of Michael, this would all go away."