Prosecutor brings no charges, but claims three men showed 'disgraceful and irresponsible attitude' by not seeking medical help for fellow recruit
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A probationary Deschutes County sheriff’s deputy won’t face criminal charges but has been placed on administrative leave during an internal investigation of his role in a police academy incident in which investigators said he apparently picked up and dropped a fellow recruit, leaving him with serious injuries.
The Marion County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday that no criminal charges would be filed in the incident that occurred last Oct. 17 in a dorm room at the state Department of Public Safety, Standards and Training campus in Salem.
It involved several DPSST recruits who had gone out for dinner and drinks at day’s end before returning to the campus. The recruits were Deputy Joseph DeLance of the sheriff’s office, along with Portland police recruit Dustyn Matlock, 28, and Oregon State Police recruits Austin Daugherty and Dylan Hansen.
The DA’s office didn’t press charges against DeLance and the others in large part because of the inconsistent stories of those involved and because Matlock had no memory of how he was injured, Deputy District Attorney Matt Kemmy wrote in an eight-page memo.
The three men’s stories, while not totally consistent, did share “the same general details,” Kemmy wrote: that “while practicing ‘clinchwork,’ DeLance grabbed Matlock in a bear hug and lifted him slightly off the ground, let go and that Matlock somehow then fell over and hit the ground.”
“All three deny that DeLance slammed Matlock in any way,” the prosecutor wrote, but their versions of what happened “were not supported by medical opinion evidence based on Matlock’s injuries,” nor fit a “common-sense analysis” of how such injuries could be sustained.
“Nevertheless, determining if a crime occurred requires proving what actually happened and not simply disproving a false or fabricated story,” Kemmy wrote. “That is particularly true in a case like this, where the injured person (Matlock) was voluntarily engaging in the conduct that led to his injuries.”
Matlock came to after being knocked unconscious in the dorm. He spit up blood, thought he might have broken his arm and wondered if he was suffering a brain bleed. He also was having visible body tremors.
But the prosecutor said “no one in the group called for medical attention or notified anyone in authority that Matlock was in distress.” In fact, he wrote, when Matlock asked the others to call an Uber ride so he could go the hospital, the three others “tried repeatedly to convince Matlock to just ‘take ibuprofen’ and ’sleep it off.’"
If Matlock’s roommate, who was present at the time, hadn’t taken him to the hospital, he could have died due to brain swelling, according to ER doctors who treated him.
In the conclusion of his memo, Kemmy wrote:
“The behavior of Joseph DeLance, Austin Daugherty and Dylan Hansen the night of October 17, 2019, while not criminal, should cause serious concerns about their character. Their lack of candor about the incident during the subsequent law enforcement investigation should cause serious concerns about their credibility.
“Their ‘circle the wagons’ version of what took place that night is not credible. Whether their story was created by some misguided belief that they needed to cover for one another or whether it was done for self-preservation, it is disturbing either way.
“However, even more disturbing is their disgraceful and irresponsible attitude towards Dustyn Matlock’s injuries. The fact that they would rather let a friend and classmate (or anyone for that matter) suffer than risk getting in trouble is antithetical to what real police officers do: protect others. Police officers leave their homes every day willing to risk their lives for the safety of others. On October 17, 2019, Joseph Delance, Austin Daugherty and Dylan Hansen did the opposite - they risked another’s life to save themselves.”
In a statement issued Friday by the sheriff’s office, Sgt. William Bailey said, “The conduct described in Marion County District Attorney’s Office findings does not meet the expectations of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.
“Upon receiving the findings of the Marion County District Attorney’s Office regarding this investigation, Deputy DeLance was placed on paid administrative leave.
“The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office will conduct an internal investigation of the October 17, 2019 incident to determine whether Deputy DeLance violated any office policies and if found in violation, what employment action will be taken. Deputy DeLance will be afforded due process during this internal investigation and have legal representation.
DeLance was hired by the sheriff’s office as a corrections deputy in September 2017 and transfered to the patrol division last year, Bailey said
“The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Salem Police Department and the Marion County District Attorney’s Office for their investigation and review of this matter,” Bailey concluded.