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Deschutes County Pays $1M Settlement After Inmate Death


Edwin Mays died of a methamphetamine overdose in the Deschutes County Jail on Dec. 14, 2014.

Edwin Mays died of a methamphetamine overdose in the Deschutes County Jail on Dec. 14, 2014.

Courtesy of Eddy Mays

Deschutes County agreed Thursday to pay more than $1 million to the family of an inmate who died while being held at the county jail.  

Edwin Mays was arrested in 2014 for intoxication. Jail staff believed he was high on methamphetamine, although Mays denied taking drugs.   

Mays eventually died of an overdose, and investigators reviewed his case for possible misconduct by the Deschutes County Jail staff. Reports indicate staff mocked Mays and were slow to seek medical treatment for him.  

In May 2015, Mays’ family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the sheriff’s office, former Sheriff Larry Blanton and nine corrections deputies.

An Oregon Department of Justice investigation concluded there wasn’t enough evidence in the case to bring criminal charges against jail staff.  

“[T]here is no way to know whether earlier medical intervention would have made any difference in the outcome of Mr. Mays,” the report states.

Mays’ father described the DOJ’s conclusions as a “shot in the gut.”

“It just makes it really difficult to have any confidence in the legal system in Oregon, in DOJ,” said Eddie Mays Jr.

Deschutes County agreed to pay $700,000 to Mays’ family out of its risk management fund. The remaining $325,000 will come from the county’s insurance company.

“This agreement is not an acknowledgement of liability or wrongdoing – a fact confirmed by the Oregon Department of Justice’s investigation and also by the terms of the settlement agreement,” county officials said in a statement Thursday.

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