A shirtless man seen shivering next to a lump of belongings in a widely-circulated Facebook video was shoved out of the Douglas County Jail by three jail employees and appeared to be experiencing a mental health crisis, according to the woman who recorded the video.
Lynzey Pier said she was waiting for her husband at the Douglas County Courthouse in Roseburg the morning of Jan. 17 when she pulled up in direct sight of the county jail’s release door.
“I see this guy, half of his body, flying out of the release door,” Pier told OPB. “They brutally shoved him out the door and that’s why I started recording.”
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office identified the man Friday as 29-year-old Max Randol Stafford. Pier said Stafford was not violent but was screaming to go back inside. She said he looked “extremely confused” and appeared as though he didn’t want to leave the jail. Records show Stafford was booked into the jail the same day he was released.
“He was skin and bones,” said Pier, a server at a local Elmer’s restaurant. “He couldn’t communicate. It was an evident, serious mental health thing going on.”
The sheriff’s office said the Winston Municipal Court had ordered the man’s release, but added he would not cooperate with deputies. In a statement released Friday, the office said a registered nurse at the jail tried to speak to Stafford before he was released, but Stafford refused.
The office also said Stafford refused to get dressed or cooperate with deputies.
“As we no longer had any lawful authority to keep the individual in custody, deputies had to escort the individual outside of the jail facility,” the sheriff’s office said in the statement Thursday.
“In Douglas County there are no licensed residential mental health beds,” said Greg Brigham, CEO of Adapt, a nonprofit that provides mental health services in the county. “It’s a problem. It’s a big deficit.”
Brigham said there’s no way of knowing on the video whether Stafford would’ve qualified for residential treatment. But, he said, they would’ve responded had someone called Adapt.
“On the outpatient side, we’re doing pretty good,” Brigham said, noting that mental health practitioners do work in the jail.
Adapt also recently received a federal grant to deploy with Roseburg Police to mental health calls, though the program hasn’t started yet.
“People don’t understand that we can’t force people to take services,” Brigham said. “They have civil rights. We can offer, but can’t force them to take services.”
Stafford is seen in the video lying on the ground over a jacket, shirtless. He has a plastic bag over his head and some clothes scattered at his feet. Pier told OPB that Stafford came out of jail in that exact condition, and that some of his clothes were soaking wet.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said Stafford “apparently dumped his clothing out of the plastic bag and used the plastic bag to cover himself.”
In the video, Pier speaks with an employee at the jail through the intercom at the door.
“Hey, what should I do with this guy out here?” she said.
“We just walked him out of the jail because he’s been released of all of his charges,” a male employee responded through a speaker.
“And so this is what happens?” Pier said.
“Ma’am, he chose to curl up and lay down,” the employee replied.
Pier described a more forceful scene.
“They shoved him down, slammed the door, opened the door again real quick, threw his stuff out the door and that was it,” she told OPB. “He kept screaming ‘no, no!’”
The sheriff’s office is familiar with Stafford, who has been booked into the Douglas County Jail 43 times since 2003, according to the sheriff’s office. The sheriff’s office said Stafford has a history of refusing help and resources offered to him by deputies.
“He has been written up several times for refusing to move cells and obey orders from jail staff,” the agency said in a statement. “The general behavior in all previous write-ups is similar to that shown throughout this instance. Laying stagnant, refusing to speak and pretending to be asleep.”
Pier said a man who also witnessed the event called 911, telling dispatchers he was afraid of Stafford’s safety and the safety of those around him. Medics arrived and took Stafford to a hospital. Pier doesn’t know what happened to him.
“It’s extremely sad, you know?” Pier said. “I had no sense of who I would’ve called. There has to be something better. There has to be something more.”
The video has since been removed from Facebook by a woman Pier knows, who posted it on her behalf.
OPB’s Conrad Wilson contributed reporting.
If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis in Douglas County, or know someone who is, call 541-440-3532 or 800-866-9780.