Police Misconduct

Mentally ill man files suit in arrest

He says Lane County officials and Springfield law enforcement mistreated him in 2008

 

By Jack Moran

The Register-Guard

 

APPEARED IN PRINT: SATURDAY, DEC. 25, 2010, PAGE B4


A Eugene attorney has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Lane County and the city of Springfield on behalf of a mentally ill man who claims that law enforcement and county medical officials mistreated him and neglected his medical needs after a 2008 arrest.

In the suit, Mark Andrew Kemp asks a judge to award him unspecified monetary damages and require Springfield police and Lane County Jail officials to revise their policies regarding treatment of mentally ill criminal suspects.

Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center in Eugene filed the lawsuit this week in U.S. District Court.

Among the claims included in the 32-page lawsuit are several alleging that jail deputies and medical staff did little to help Kemp, 51, after he repeatedly displayed bizarre behavior indicative of a mental illness after police arrested him twice in December 2008 on trespassing charges.

Kemp’s time in the jail ended Jan. 10, 2009, when he had to be taken to a local hospital after becoming “critically ill” while in custody, according to the lawsuit.

The series of events detailed in the suit began Dec. 29, 2008, when Springfield police arrested Kemp for acting disorderly while trespassing at a gas station.

Jail officials released Kemp from custody later that same night, but Eugene police arrested him again the next day after finding he had trespassed at a local office building, according to the suit.

While the lawsuit states that Springfield police used excessive force in arresting Kemp, it says a Eugene police officer “respectfully and peaceably” arrested him in the second incident.

After the Eugene arrest, jail officials placed Kemp on a “mental health hold” that required he not be released without treatment.

He remained in jail until he went to the hospital three weeks later, according to the lawsuit.

The suit claims that jail officials disregarded a Eugene Municipal Court judge’s order on Jan. 6, 2009, to transport Kemp to Oregon State Hospital in Salem because he was mentally unfit to assist in his defense. During his time in jail, deputies allegedly assaulted him after he did not respond to their orders, according to the suit.

The suit alleges that officials violated Kemp’s constitutional rights and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Kemp is described in the lawsuit as an intermittently homeless person who has lived in both Eugene and Springfield.