558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
Suspect sues City and County
Lawsuit accuses Prineville police officers and Crook County deputies of police brutality and torture
November 08, 2012
A Prineville man has filed a lawsuit against multiple Crook and Jefferson County law enforcement personnel claiming he endured abuse and torture while in their custody.
Curtis Hooper is seeking more than $5 million in damages associated with multiple incidents that occurred in both Jefferson and Crook County during the past two years.
City of Prineville and Crook County staff and officials were advised by legal representation not to comment on the case because it is pending litigation.
Hooper’s attorney, Andrew Mathers, said that Crook County deputies and Prineville police officers have a history of harassing Hooper, but a series of event in May 2011 prompted their involvement in the lawsuit.
According to a complaint filed in federal court, Hooper was “sleeping at a friend’s house when his friends called 911 and reported that the plaintiff may have tried to commit suicide by taking pills.”
Medical personnel arrived first on the scene, but by then Mathers said Hooper was awake and alert and told the medics he was fine. Afterward, Prineville police officers Jim O’Daniel and Tom Kurtz responded to the call.
“The police showed up (and) started pushing him around, (saying) ‘Can we see your ID,’ (and) ‘Take your hands out of your pockets.’” Mathers said. “Curtis is saying, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong. Leave me alone. I’m fine.’”
Mathers said the officers then escalated the situation to a point where they sprayed mace in his face, handcuffed him, and placed him in a patrol car.
“He hadn’t committed a crime,” he said. “He didn’t do anything wrong.”
At that point, Mathers said that Hooper kicked the car door, prompting officers to pull him out of the car by the handcuffs. He claims they then threw him on the ground and shot him with a tazer gun eight times.
Hooper was then arrested and taken to Pioneer Memorial Hospital where he alleges further abuse by Crook County and Prineville law enforcement took place, much of which was captured on video tape.
“Three officers can be seen in the tape,” the complaint states. “(The) plaintiff was in five-point restraints . . . dazed and clearly not in his right mind, badly injured and mumbling curses at the officers . . . They (two of the officers) are seen bending (the) plaintiff’s fingers backward until they reach his arm, repeatedly pinching him, and bending his toes toward his leg.”
Mathers said the video tells the whole story, and he doesn’t see a reason why the use of force was necessary in that instance.
“I don’t know how they can explain it,” he said. “They can explain it however they want to explain it, rationalize it however they want to rationalize it, but there were witnesses and it’s on video.”
Hooper has a more than decade-long criminal history in Crook County. Since 2001, he has been charged with 12 misdemeanors and seven felonies. The felony charges range from Theft I and Burglary I to Unlawful Use of a Weapon and Sexual Abuse I. Six of the seven felony cases led to a conviction.
The complaint points out that Hooper is “severely agoraphobic and suffers from neurological disorders resulting in poor impulse control and angry outbursts.” It goes on to say that he has trouble processing information and often acts out angrily in a panic because it takes him time to process the information. Consequently, Hooper has been in mental health treatment, and has taken medications to control anxiety, depression, and his thought disorders.
Mathers contends that law enforcement personnel clearly failed to property treat Hooper for his mental condition while in custody.
Hooper is suing Jefferson County law enforcement personnel as well for multiple incidents at the Jefferson County Jail between December 2010 and May 2011. In one such incident, he alleges that deputy Rob Robbins kicked a steel door shut on his hand, breaking two fingers. Robbins has since been fired.
Hooper is suing Crook County deputies Bob Dundas and Rob Hartley as well as Prineville police officers Tom Kurtz and Jim O’Daniel for their role in the May 2011 incident. He is also taking legal action against multiple members of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office including Sheriff Jim Adkins and Deputies Rob Robbins, Troy Siefer, Sandford Beals, Josh Oliveira, Katherine Poland, Melody Sheffield, Bambi Darling, Ron Van Fleet, Shawn Windsor, and Tony Lewis. He is demanding a jury trial.
As the case moves forward, Mathers said he will make a request for production of documents and then take the depositions of the defendants and other people who may be involved in the case.