Last month, charges filed by local resident Curtis Hooper against Prineville and Crook County law enforcement personnel were dismissed as part of a settlement agreement. Attorney Robert Wagner, of Portland, defended the City of Prineville and Crook County in the matter, but he could not be reached for comment on the settlement. However, City attorney Carl Dutli and County Counsel Jeff Wilson, who did not represent the entities in this lawsuit, provided some basic details.
“In February, Crook County and the City of Prineville and their officers were dismissed from the proceeding,” said City attorney Carl Dutli. “Then, in March, Hooper settled with Jefferson County.”
Neither he nor Wilson could say anything further about the case.
“There was an agreement . . . that the settlement would remain confidential for a period of time,” Wilson explained.
Like the defendants, Hooper’s attorney Andrew Mathers declined to provide settlement details. He did note that Jefferson County will pay Hooper a sum of money, but as part of the agreement, he could not elaborate on the amount.
“In exchange for money, the parties were dismissed and the lawsuit was dismissed,” he said.
News of the more than $5 million lawsuit first broke in early November. Citing torture and police brutality, Hooper sued the City of Prineville, Crook County, and Jefferson County in connection with incidents that took place in May 2011.
According to a complaint filed by Hooper in federal court, he was sleeping at a friend’s house when the friend called 911 out of fear he had attempted suicide by taking pills. Hooper alleged that when Prineville police officers arrived, he was conscious and not in need of any help, but they nevertheless tased him multiple times and took him into custody without cause. Later, after he was hospitalized, Hooper claimed that police officers tortured him by bending his finger back, repeatedly pinching him, and bending his toes back.
By contrast, a police report filed by responding officers portrayed Hooper as combative at the initial scene and at the hospital. Their report included witness testimony that Hooper had held a box knife to one man’s throat when Hooper first awoke, as well as photographical evidence that he injured officers and hospital staff while in custody.
Hooper also sued Jefferson County law enforcement personnel for multiple incidents at their jail, including one where a deputy broke his fingers by slamming a metal door on them.
Hooper sought at least $5 million in damages from the City and Crook and Jefferson counties. With the settlement, neither the City nor Crook County will pay any money to Hooper, and have no legal liability.
“Obviously, it was a good result for Crook County,” Wilson concluded.