Multnomah County sheriff’s deputy won’t be prosecuted for online boasts

MULTNOMAH COUNTY, OREGON – The Multnomah County sheriff’s deputy who bragged online about beating a jail inmate without provocation will not face criminal charges, the district attorney’s office decided this week.

Don Rees, a Multnomah County senior deputy district attorney, dismissed Deputy David B. Thompson’s statements as nothing other than “puffing or boasting” in an Internet chat room.

The decision, issued in a decline-to-prosecute memo, clears the way for an internal affairs investigation into Thompson’s conduct, including spending untold work hours chatting and playing on the Internet.

Thompson’s case — and the question of how a jail deputy could spend so much time online without interfering with his work or coming to the attention of his colleagues — prompted the sheriff’s office to install new Internet filtering software to monitor and limit the Web sites employees can visit. Managers can request detailed reporting of which sites an employee is visiting and for how long, but the idea is to keep employees from misusing the Internet in the first place.

“It’s a more proactive way of doing it,” said Christine Kirk, chief of staff for Sheriff Bernie Giusto.

The software has already been used to alert managers to excessive Internet use by a few employees, Kirk said.

The controversy began last September when the Portland Tribune reported that Thompson wrote on the Internet that he “crushed a dude’s eye socket from repeatedly punching him in it, then I charged him with menacing and harassment (of me). He took a plea to get away from me. He shoulda picked somebody else to try to fight.”

The comment was one of many controversial statements Thompson posted on an Internet gambling site he accessed on his work computer more than 1,700 times in the eight months prior to the discovery.

Thompson confirmed to investigators the comment was a reference to a 2005 incident in which Thompson repeatedly hit jail inmate David M. Baker in the head and face, one of 40 use-of-force incidents Thompson reported since 2002. Thompson told investigators Baker initiated the attack, an account supported by witnesses, according to the district attorney’s memo dropping the case.

Baker, who had a history of assaults, protested at the time that he was attacked without provocation but still pleaded no contest to attempted assault of a public safety officer. Interviewed again, Baker repeated his claim that Thompson initiated the attack but declined to take a polygraph examination, according to the memo.

The sheriff’s office internal investigation unit will now look into whether Thompson’s conduct violated restrictions on computer use as well as general conduct standards by bringing discredit on the sheriff’s office, said Chief Deputy Ron Bishop, who oversees the jails.

The ultimate decision on any punishment will rest with county Chairman Ted Wheeler, who now has the final say on discipline matters under a new power-sharing agreement. Giusto relinquished authority for employee discipline after a well-documented pattern of leniency toward employee wrongdoing.

According to the district attorney’s memo, Thompson has refused to discuss his computer use with prosecutors, citing the advice of his attorney. He is still working in the downtown jail’s classification unit.


One Response

  1. That’s nice inmates get beat for no reason and get no justice

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