Video footage released Wednesday, June 10, shows a Washington County Jail deputy attacking an inmate during booking two years ago, causing significant injuries to the inmate and prompting the deputy's recent arrest.
The Washington County district attorney's office refused to charge the deputy, Rian Alden, after an investigation into the 2018 incident by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and Oregon State Police.
After Alden was placed on administrative leave in early June for sending emails containing several racial epithets, prosecutors decided to review the incident again, later charging him with first-degree official misconduct. Alden was indicted on the misconduct charges Friday, June 5.
The video, which was recorded on March 30, 2018, shows Alden running at an inmate, Albert Molina, and slamming him into a wall by his neck before pulling him to the ground and restraining him. Molina's attorney's released the video Wednesday.
Molina was lodged at the jail on one count of driving under the influence — a charge he received for riding his bicycle while drunk, a booking report shows. Molina was convicted on the charge and served a 30-day jail sentence in addition to having his license suspended for a year, court records show.
"Molina sustained skull fractures, bleeding on the brain, and spent the next nineteen days in the hospital, with five days in ICU, at a cost of about $130,000," Molina's attorney's said in a statement.
Following the incident, Molina sued Washington County for battery and sought more than $618,000. The county's legal counsel responded to the lawsuit, saying Alden "was justified in using only that amount of force that was reasonably necessary" in response to Molina's drunk and disorderly behavior, statements soliciting a fight and physical gestures toward Alden.
The incident was flagged by a sheriff's office supervisor for additional review. The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and Oregon State Police conducted an investigation.
The Washington County district attorney's office refused to pursue charges against Alden for the incident after the investigation, saying it lacked sufficient evidence to prosecute the deputy.
Last week, prosecutors reopened the case after an anonymous Twitter user sent the sheriff's office a screenshot of an email Alden sent in 2003 containing several racist terms. Alden was placed on administrative leave soon after the email surfaced.
Permanent brain injury
The video of the 2018 incident at the jail is nearly 13 minutes long and contains no audio. For the first eight minutes, Molina is seen sitting on a bench. Then, Alden walks over and begins talking to Molina. Shortly after, Alden has Molina face a wall and appears to begin searching his pockets before removing his handcuffs.
Alden then appears to ask Molina to remove his socks and lift up his shirt. Alden seems to become annoyed with Molina, swatting at the air in front of him before walking away to put on gloves.
Alden then goes to a computer and asks Molina to stand in front of a wall across the room for a booking photo. Molina appears to salute Alden several times as he walks over the wall and then makes more gestures at him.
Molina stands at the wall for about 30 seconds, making gestures as Alden appears to be instructing him to do something.
Seconds later, Alden rushes at him from the computer and slams him against the wall, forcing his head to jerk back and hit the wall before taking him to the ground and straddling him.
Three deputies nearby come over as one helps Alden restrain Molina. Medical staff soon come in as Molina is face down on the ground.
"In a flash of an instant, he had the back of his skull, the front of his skull and the front of his nose fractured, and then had a severe brain bleed, which led to five days in the ICU, 19 days in the hospital total, and he's got a permanent brain injury," said Jason Kafoury, Molina's attorney.
According to the lawsuit, Molina suffered wrenching, stretching, twisting and tearing of spinal tissues, a loss of consciousness, traumatic hemorrhages, skull fractures, hearing loss and other injuries.
Kafoury says Molina suffers short and long-term memory loss. Molina plans to have an evaluation by a neuropsychologist to determine the extent of his cognitive injuries, Kafoury said.
"He has trouble understanding things, he has trouble communicating, it's pretty bad," Kafoury said.
'Change and accountability'
The video of the incident was immediately available to officials at the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and Oregon State Police, which conducted an investigation, but investigators never reviewed the footage, Kafoury said. Investigators also never requested Molina's medical records indicating his injuries, he said.
Chris Liedle, spokesman for the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, said Wednesday he could not answer questions about the investigation because the Washington County Sheriff's Office reopened the case.
Washington County Deputy District Attorney Bracken McKey presented the reopened case with misdemeanor charges against Alden to a grand jury Friday. On Wednesday, McKey said he plans to return to the grand jury and ask jurors to indict Alden for second-degree assault, a charge that could result in a 10-year prison sentence.
"Yesterday, Mr. Molina's attorney provided medical records to our office that I reviewed," McKey said Wednesday. "Based on a review of those records, I intend to return to (the) grand jury and seek an indictment for assault in the second degree.
"I'm limited by Oregon's bar guidelines with what I can say, but I'll tell you that the video is deeply disturbing."
In an incident report from the Washington County Sheriff's Office, Alden said Molina was drunk and that he disobeyed orders when Alden asked him to turn to the side for a second booking photo.
Alden reported Molina swore at him multiple times and flipped him off before saying, "What's up?"
"As a former member of Washington County Jail's Security Threat Group Team we were trained that the way 'What's up' is said can be a way that many gang members would use to challenge someone to fight," Alden wrote in the report. "I wasn't aware at this time whether Molina was or was not a self-identified gang member."
Alden said he came out from behind the computer to take Molina to his cell because he was becoming aggressive. He said Molina began to challenge him to a fight because he lifted his hands up and shifted his feet.
"From my training and experience, these maneuvers are indicators that the inmate is preparing to fight," Alden said in the report.
He said he brought Molina to the ground to end a potential fight.
Another deputy wrote in the report that she saw Molina lose consciousness after being taken to the ground. At that point, she said deputies put Molina in a recovery position on his right side and called medical staff.
"This video is difficult to watch, particularly given the recent events and the national focus on law enforcement use of force," Sheriff Pat Garrett said in a Tuesday, June 9, statement.
At the time, the sheriff's office requested an outside review, he said. "Asking for a criminal investigation of a deputy's use of force was a very unusual step, one that few agencies take," Garrett said. "The public bestows a tremendous amount of power and trust in law enforcement, and we must earn that trust every day. The past two weeks make it clear that the public demands change and accountability from law enforcement agencies."
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