A former Clackamas County employee convicted of spray-painting a Nazi swastika next to a memorial for a Black man who died after attempting suicide while incarcerated was sentenced on Jan. 10 to 90 days behind bars, 60 months of probation and $1,080 in fines.
Collin Michael Williams, who is white, pleaded guilty in December 2021 to second-degree bias crime, second-degree criminal mischief, abuse of a memorial and third-degree criminal mischief, charges he received upon his arrest in August.
Charged initially with four counts totaling a maximum possible sentence of three years and 30 days and $20,000 in fines, Williams' third-degree criminal mischief charge was merged into his second-degree bias crime charge, making it officially three counts of which the former county surveyor has been convicted.
Williams, 21, will get credit toward his probation for jail time served and has been ordered by Circuit Judge Cody Weston to receive a mental health evaluation.
As previously reported, Oregon City police arrested Williams for reportedly knocking over candles and breaking framed photos at an outdoor memorial for Jermelle Madison, who died after attempting suicide in a Clackamas County Jail cell on June 28. Madison later died from his self-inflicted injuries in a hospital on July 3.
Authorities say Williams recorded himself in August defacing the memorial on social media, posting: "I also spray-painted a fun German windmill on the sidewalk for good measure. DM for the pic."
The Clackamas resident committed the crime while employed as an engineering technician in the Clackamas County Surveyor's Office and resigned "within days" of his arrest, as the county was in the process of terminating him, according to a county spokesperson.
Lynette Madison, Jermelle's grandmother, received early word of the sentence and said it isn't long enough to match the crime. When she heard about the state's sentencing offer, Lynette claimed it would be indicative of racial bias.
"That's a hate crime. If it had been a Black guy doing that to a white guy's memorial, they would have given him a hell of a lot more time than that," Lynette said.
"And he bragged about it. I mean, he got on Facebook and everything else and bragged about the intent. Bragged about it being a hate crime," she added. "So it isn't like a kid that made a mistake, a young man that made a mistake. He intentionally did this and set out to do it and bragged about it."
In response, a spokesperson for the District Attorney's Office disputed the claim that Williams' sentence wouldn't be reflective of the crime committed.
"Nothing that happens in the criminal justice system can possibly fix the pain felt by Mr. Madison's family. The conduct of the defendant in this case was offensive and unacceptable, and requires a strong response from the criminal justice system," the spokesperson said.
"However, the District Attorney's Office disagrees with any notion that our sentencing recommendation will not be commensurate with the crime the defendant committed, or inconsistent with sentences received by other similarly situated defendants in the state of Oregon," the spokesprson concluded.
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