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$1.75 Million in Oregon Excessive Force Jail Settlement

On March 29, 2000, the Klamath County Jail in Medford, Oregon, paid $1.75 million to settle an excessive force lawsuit filed by a former jail detainee. In 1997 Dana Lecomte was in the Klamath county jail on charges of driving with a suspended license. Jail guards claim Leconte was "out of control" and "in danger of causing himself serious injury" by repeatedly banging his head against a jail wall.

To prevent serious injury, jail guards then proceeded to handcuff and leg shackle Lecomte while he was strapped into a restraint chair. Lecomte was doused with large amounts of pepper spray and subjected to at least two chokeholds. As a result of the choke holds, Lecomte lapsed into a coma for 71 days and suffered permanent brain damage, leaving him with the mental capacity of a two year old and requiring 24 hour a day care.

Lecomte filed suit claiming the jail guards' use of excessive force violated his constitutional rights and caused his injuries. Eight days into a civil trial in federal court in Medford, Oregon, the county and its insurance company agreed to settle the case by paying Lecomte $1.75 million.

Lee Werdel, Lecomte's lawyer, said, "We regard this as neither a good or a bad settlement given the amount of damages. The settlement amount is acceptable. We're not thrilled with it." Klamath County sheriff Carl Burkhart denied Lecomte's injuries were caused by jail guards.

Source: The Oregonian

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