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Oregon Shakespeare Festival Actor Sues Jackson County and Deputies for Using Excessive Force Against Him

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Sancho filed a federal lawsuit

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Actor Sues Jackson County and Deputies for Using Excessive Force Against Him

The Oregonian has reported that Juan A. Sancho, an actor who performed in the 2019 Oregon Shakespeare Festival, has sued Jackson County and three Sheriff's Office deputies - Brady Bjorkland, David Dalton, and Michael Hammond - for using excessive force against him during his detention in April of 2019.

Read the full story HERE.

Sancho filed a federal lawsuit claiming that a Jackson County sheriff's deputy pinned him by the neck in a jail cell and two others handcuffed him to a floor grate.

Sancho, at the time of the arrest had no criminal record. One of the lawyers representing Sancho, Matthew Rowan, said that Ashland police approached Sancho as he was walking alone on the street, suspecting he was under the influence of alcohol.

Ashland Police Chief Tighe O'Meara shared that Sancho "either couldn't or wouldn't" provide information on a sober adult who would be able to come to his assistance, and that, "The officers were left with no choice but to take him into protective custody and when they attempted to he resisted,"

Sancho was arrested on an accusation of resisting arrest.

Security video shows Sancho knocking on the cell door and stepping back towards the rear wall of the cell, saying something to someone on the other side of the door. Matthew Rowan shared that his client was trying to get the attention of his jailers because "He didn't know why he was in jail... Nobody would tell him."

Bjorkland, Dalton and Hammond enter the room, and force Sancho onto the ground, according to the footage. According to the video, the deputy officer identified in the lawsuit as Bjorkland placed his knee on Sancho's neck and upper back for nearly a minute.

The three deputies held Sancho down and a forth entered the cell, once again handcuffing Sancho behind his back. When the deputies leave, Sancho again tries to get their attention. The video then shows Hammond and Bjorkland returning to the cell, where they force Sancho back onto the floor and handcuff him to the metal grate.

Artistic Director for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Nataki Garrett, has issued a statement:

"My husband and I have known him for many years as a family man, and artistic community member of upstanding character... I am hopeful that the legal process will resolve this matter, and if proven to be correct, will result in holding those involved accountable for their actions."

Records show that the allegation of Sancho resisting arrest was dropped.

Read the full story HERE.

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