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Sheriff's Office Responds to Criticism Following Viral Video of Homeless Man

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office is attempting to shed light on the circumstances behind the video of a shirtless man left on the ground outside of the local jail — footage of which has sparked ire from the community.

Posted: Jan 25, 2019 3:05 PM
Updated: Jan 25, 2019 4:18 PM

ROSEBURG, Ore. — After video surfaced of a shirtless man lying hunched outside of the Douglas County Jail within the past week, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office (DCSO) says it is clearing up the facts surrounding the situation.

The video, which was taken Jan. 17, shows the man shirtless and with no shoes, shivering and sobbing on the sidewalk next to the door of the intake minutes after being released.

Two strangers approached the man, asking if he is OK, and then one of them speaks to deputies through an intercom:

WOMAN: What should I do with this guy out here?

DEPUTY: Well, we just walked him out of jail because he's been released on all of his charges.

WOMAN: And so this is what happens?

DEPUTY: Ma'am, he chose to curl up and lay down.

The woman who helped and the filmed the encounter, Lynzey, said after she stopped recording she called 911 and the man was taken to the hospital. She's wondering why the Douglas County Sheriff's Office didn't act more humanely.

"It just felt really hopeless," said Lynzey, who didn't want to give her last name. "I think we deserve better than, no matter what, we deserve better than that."

The man was later identified as Max Randol Stafford.

In a statement released on January 24, DCSO gave an initial explanation that the man had been released from custody by the Winston Municipal Court, but he refused to cooperate with deputies and would not leave the jail — so deputies had to "escort the individual outside" of jail. DCSO promised to review the facts and release more information later.

The next day, DCSO released what they said were the facts surrounding Stafford's incarceration.

"While initially, the video appears to be disturbing, there are additional facts we feel are critically important for the community to know," DCSO said.

According to the agency, Stafford was booked into jail for Criminal Trespass II on January 17. But just hours later, the court ordered his release.

"A Registered Nurse with the contracted jail medical provider attempted to speak with Mr. Stafford prior to his release. Mr. Stafford would not speak to the nurse," DCSO said.

Deputies continued to prepare Stafford for release, but the agency said that he refused to get dressed and resisted leaving. Finally, "no longer having any lawful authority to keep Mr. Stafford in jail," the deputies pulled Stafford outside, placed his clothes in a plastic bag next to him, and left him to his own devices.

"Mr. Stafford chose to lie down on the ground outside of the facility. He apparently dumped his clothing out of the plastic bag and used the plastic bag to cover himself," DCSO said.

Minutes later, the agency claims, Lynzey and her companion walked up.

DCSO said that Stafford had a long history of being booked in the jail, having been incarcerated there 43 times. Stafford's refusal to move or comply was similar in almost every instance, DCSO said.

"We believe these facts are important details that must be taken into consideration when viewing the video," DCSO said. ". . . It is difficult to help someone who refuses assistance and does not meet the criteria of a police intervention."

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