Edwin Mays spent the final hours of his life overdosing on methamphetamine in the Deschutes County jail while sheriff’s deputies watched a football game.
Mays, 31, died the night of Dec. 14. Deputies had observed he might need medical attention.
But nobody called paramedics for nearly two hours.
Mays was in a holding cell in the jail when he became unresponsive after more than three hours of erratic behavior, according to video of the incident released by the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday.
District Attorney John Hummel requested Monday that the Oregon Department of Justice investigate the incident. “I think independent review is best here,” said Hummel on Tuesday.
The video of the incident, obtained by The Bulletin through a public records request, shows corrections deputies interspersing commentary on the football game with commentary on Mays. They stop by his cell, looking in, and making remarks such as, “You have to come over here and watch,” “Pull up a seat, bro,” and “He’s wound up tighter than a six-dollar watch.”
Mays was booked into the jail at about 4:45 p.m. Dec. 14.
At about 6:26 p.m., one deputy commented, as Mays quickly paced around his cell, “He needs Narcan, is what he needs.” Narcan is a brand name for Naloxone, an anti-opioid drug often administered to treat an overdose, according to the National Institutes of Health. About 20 minutes later, paramedics arrived to check a female inmate in another cell. They left minutes later.
At about 7:12 p.m., Mays can be seen moving rapidly around the cell. His cellmate was subsequently removed. Then one deputy said to another, “He probably needs to go to the hospital.”
The other replied, “Probably does.”
The video shows that at about 8:25 p.m., Mays became unresponsive.
It wasn’t until 8:56, nearly half an hour after he became unresponsive, and nearly two hours after the deputies mused that Mays “probably” needed medical attention, that deputies began attempting to resuscitate him.
In a report on the incident written by Deschutes County Sheriff’s Sgt. Deke DeMars, Deputy Jesse Hurley, who was present at the time of the incident, told DeMars that he and Sgt. Tedd Morris left a mattress in the cell for Mays after they noticed he had a “small amount of blood” on the back of his head.
At about 8:56, a deputy — identified as Deputy Amanda Parks in supplemental police reports — called 911. She did not mention Mays’ apparent head injury.
The video shows emergency medical technicians arrived at 9:02 p.m. The state medical examiner’s report identifies the time of death as 9:01 p.m., though EMTs did not stop attempts to revive him until about 9:30 p.m., according to the video. The medical examiner cited the cause of Mays’ death as a methamphetamine overdose.
Hurley was in the property room of the booking area when deputies in Mays’ cell requested assistance. Hurley told DeMars that Mays was lying on his side. Vomit was on the floor next to his mouth; Deputy Rick Benitez began CPR, attempting to revive Mays until EMTs arrived on the scene.
Deputy Randy Thompson told DeMars in an interview that he was in the booking area when Mays arrived at the jail. He observed that Mays was “jumping around” and that he believed that Mays was twitching, could not sit still and appeared under the influence of a controlled substance.
Thompson said he’d returned to the booking area later that night with a female work crew — two women can be seen mopping the floor under the deputies’ desks in the video — and saw Mays lying in his cell and other deputies were checking on him.
Thompson said he left to change some mop water, and when he came back, Mays was not breathing. Thompson retrieved a defibrillator and breathing bag and assisted Benitez with chest compressions until EMTs arrived.
Deschutes County Sheriff’s Capt. Shane Nelson, who oversees jail operations and has been appointed to succeed Sheriff Larry Blanton, said Tuesday that no sheriff’s deputies had been placed on leave as a result of the incident.
“I will wait to see what the results of the investigation are,” said Nelson. “I don’t foresee anybody being placed on leave as a result of the death investigation.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0376,