Although video recorded in the Deschutes County jail the night a 31-year-old inmate died of a methamphetamine overdose has not been released to the media, a Bend attorney obtained a copy of the video back in January through a public records request, according to Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Counsel Darryl Nakahira.
The Bulletin filed a records request for access to and a copy of the same video from the sheriff’s office Feb. 2, and verbally from the Deschutes County District Attorney on March 13, but the request has not yet been fulfilled. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel verbally denied the request March 13 and said he is reviewing the video before it can be released to the public.
But Jennifer Coughlin, of Bend law firm Brothers, Hawn & Coughlin LLP, received a copy of the video Jan. 15, Nakahira said Friday.
“I should have given her the same answer I gave everybody who made that request, which is, ‘We have to wait for the DA,’ and I didn’t,” Nakahira said. “My anticipation is that the DA will be finished reviewing it in the next week or so.”
Nakahira initially said Thursday that he did not know Coughlin received the video.
Coughlin requested the records Dec. 19, according to copies of her request provided to The Bulletin. At the time of her request, she stated, she was not representing any of the parties involved.
The sheriff’s office first disclosed Edwin Burl Mays’ death to the public in a news release Dec. 15. The next day, the sheriff’s office sent another press release stating the medical examiner ruled out damage to internal organs and physical injuries as a cause of death.
On March 3, the sheriff’s office sent another news release stating the state medical examiner’s report determined the cause of Mays’ death was a methamphetamine overdose.
Mays’ uncle, Billy Mays, of Spokane, Washington, said Friday that his family had recently retained Coughlin but had not seen the video or the full autopsy report.
“Not getting a second opinion, an objective second opinion, after all this time is really upsetting,” Mays said. “We want people to take a look and get a sense of what really happened.”
On Feb. 23, Coughlin requested a copy of the sheriff’s office’s policies and procedures regarding any inmate need for medical attention or care, any suspected intoxication and inmate requests for medical treatment.
Coughlin copied Hummel on both requests and copies of her requests were obtained through a public records request.
On Wednesday, Hummel wrote that only The Bulletin and a KTVZ reporter had requested the video from the District Attorney. Later the same day, Hummel sent a revised letter saying the District Attorney’s office was copied on Coughlin’s Dec. 19 and Feb. 23 requests, and included those requests as attachments.
— Reporter: 541-383-0376, email@example.com