9/1/23 News Update


<<Allen Walker died on a Multnomah County jail cell floor after more than six cups of blood poured into his stomach through a tear in his throat, records show.

Walker, 31, died May 13, the second of six people to die this year in the county’s custody — a sharp increase from past years that the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office has promised to investigate and attempt to curb.

The office has focused mainly on contraband narcotics in its public statements about the troubling trend, but records show that Walker died in the Multnomah County Detention Center in downtown Portland not from drugs but because of internal bleeding caused by an ulcer. While the records released so far don’t say whether Walker asked for help or if deputies did their scheduled rounds in the hours before he died, his sister says she’s certain he would have notified guards if he was ill.>.

<<An ulcer in Walker’s esophagus, the tube that connects the stomach to the mouth, had broken open, and blood poured through the hole into his stomach. He had about 6.3 cups of “hemorrhagic contents,” or blood, in his stomach, according to the report.

While Walker did have vestiges of drugs in his system, Stanley concluded it was “unlikely that acute drug toxicity contributed to his death,” because of the low concentrations in his blood and because he had a history of chronic drug use, Stanley wrote in a forensic examination report signed Aug. 2.

At 31, Walker had died a “natural” death, Stanley concluded. Gilgan, Walker’s sister, said she would like to know whether he had asked for help – and, if he did, whether deputies responded to him.>>

<<The medical examiner has not yet determined the cause of death for three of this year’s six in-custody deaths, a county spokesperson said in an email. Two others were ruled suicides. Of the three in-custody deaths in 2022, two were due to natural causes and one was due to an accident and cocaine poisoning, the sheriff’s office said earlier this month. Nobody died in county custody in 2021 or 2020, the office said.

Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell has asked the Oregon State Police to investigate the six deaths and for the National Institute of Corrections to assess how the county runs its jails.>>



<<The Multnomah County board of commissioners voted Thursday to approve a one-time allocation of $3.4 million in general fund dollars for the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, which requested the budgetary boost earlier this month and warned that without the money, it would need to close 219 of the county’s 1,130 jail beds.

The sheriff’s office said the shortfall was related to Oregon’s 1995 Senate Bill 1145, which set up county jails to house certain inmates that would previously have gone to prison under the Oregon Department of Corrections. The real-world costs of doing so have outstripped the added funding that accompanied the bill, according to the county. The county has made these sorts of supplemental allocations multiple times in the past.

Without the added funding, county officials said the jail’s emergency plan would have been to begin releasing inmates held on lower-level charges to free up space if the jails hit 95% capacity. The county had 948 adults in custody as of Aug. 20, so the roughly 20% reduction caused by the funding shortfall would have triggered the emergency plan.

The request from the sheriff’s office included $3 million to keep the jail beds open and another $418,000 to add two corrections counselors and a records technician.

The request was combined with requests for other allocations for the county’s Department of Community Justice and the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council, all of which totaled up to just over $6.3 million.

The commissioners passed the package unanimously after adding an amendment, but the amendment didn’t impact the portion of the funding bound for the sheriff’s office.>>


<<The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners voted today to spend an additional $6 million to fill a hole in the county corrections budget, a result of a decline in state funding as jail populations shrank during the pandemic.

The county furiously lobbied state lawmakers to fill the funding gap, arguing that jail populations are expected to rebound and that state payments haven’t kept up with the rising costs of handling a population facing increasingly acute mental illness and substance use disorders.

After legislators declined to act, Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell told county commissioners that without additional county funds she’d have to close 219 jail beds, sending many inmates out onto the streets.

The county’s Department of Community Justice, which oversees inmates on parole or probation, faced similar cuts.

The budget crunch is the result of a decades-old agreement in which the state of Oregon pays counties to hold convicted criminals serving short sentences in county jail rather than state prison. The payments are calculated based on the number of inmates being supervised by the county, which has declined during the pandemic.

he result is an ongoing debate, repeated year after year, between county and state policymakers over who’s responsible for paying the increased costs of housing and supervising convicted criminals.>>



<<A fully shackled man charged with attempted aggravated murder escaped the state mental hospital and was last seen fleeing south on Interstate 5, Oregon troopers announced Thursday.

Christopher Lee Pray, 39, had been moved from Portland’s county jail to the Oregon State Hospital in Salem on Wednesday, but was soon transferred again to a local emergency room after he became involved in an “altercation” with another patient, according to a spokesperson for the state facility.

State hospital staff were taking Pray back to the campus in an unmarked white Dodge Caravan when he commandeered the vehicle and drove off about 10:30 p.m., said the spokesperson, Amber Shoebridge.

One of the workers was injured in the escape, Shoebridge said, adding that she didn’t know if the worker had sought medical care.

State troopers say they learned of the break-out by 10:45 p.m. and gave chase on the interstate, but later disengaged from the high-speed pursuit out of safety concerns.>>

<<State Police Capt. Kyle Kennedy defended the 12-hour delay in notifying the public, saying troopers were not immediately aware of Pray’s criminal history on Wednesday evening.>>

<<This isn’t the first time a patient has broken free from the hospital’s custody. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency, found numerous violations during a surprise investigation of the hospital’s Junction City satellite campus after a convicted murderer, Thaddeus Ziemlak, ran away for the fourth time in 2022.

The federal probe jeopardized some of the hospital’s funding, but state officials brought the campus back into compliance last December.

Pray is charged with first-degree robbery and attempted aggravated murder in Multnomah County stemming from an incident on March 12, 2022, records show.>>

<<Later that month, Pray allegedly fired a gun while robbing an auto parts store in Portland on March 21, 2022, according to court documents.

In another open case, he’s accused of assaulting a different women repeatedly last year, records show.>>

<<Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Pray on April 18. A circuit judge found him unable to aid in his own cases and ordered him to receive treatment at the state hospital earlier this month.

Pray has at least 16 felony convictions on his record for charges including first-degree robbery, being an inmate with a weapon, smuggling contraband into prison and resisting arrest, records show.>>


<<A man awaiting trial for attempted aggravated murder and other serious charges escaped custody after he was transferred from the Multnomah County Jail to the Oregon State Hospital on Wednesday night, Oregon State Police (OSP) reported Thursday morning.

At around 10:45 p.m. Wednesday, Christopher Lee Pray stole a Dodge Caravan minivan while in leg shackles, a belly chain, handcuffs and a restraint that connects all three together, and then eluded law enforcement during a southbound chase on Interstate 5, troopers said.

Authorities said they ended the pursuit on I-5 due to safety concerns.

Pray, 39, has not been apprehended and OSP said it does not know where he is. He’s considered “extremely dangerous,” OSP reported, and should not be approached by anyone who sees him. Pray has ties to the greater Portland metro area, troopers said.>>


<<Christopher Lee Pray, 39, was in custody for attempted aggravated murder and was transferred to the Oregon State Hospital Wednesday when the Oregon State Police said he escaped custody, stole a white 2016 Dodge Caravan with the license plate E265614 and headed southbound on Interstate 5.

In a statement, the Oregon State Hospital said Pray is on “unauthorized leave” from the hospital after he was admitted on Wednesday.

According to OSH, Pray needed to be transferred to a local emergency department for medical care after an altercation with another patient.

After returning to the state hospital around 10:30 p.m., Pray stole the van.>>



<<This week, those commuting into downtown Portland may notice a new billboard featuring two of Multnomah County’s best-known politicians in what those responsible for the display call a “Schmidt Show.”

The billboard portrays chattering teeth toys with the caption, “All Talk, No Action,” along with photos of Chair Jessica Vega Pederson and District Attorney Mike Schmidt. It goes on to say, “Billions Spent, Problems Worse.”

People for Portland, the organization responsible for the billboard at Southwest Washington Street and Second Avenue, says the display is in response to the county’s rise in homelessness, drug addiction and violence.

“Whether it’s restoring public safety, enforcing no camping laws, ending open-air drug use and sales, or spending and managing billions in tax dollars meant to ‘end the homeless crisis,’ politicians are far better at talking about our problems than taking action to solve them,” People for Portland said in a press release.

The organization says the billboards hold politicians accountable as People for Portland pushes for “urgency, action and results to rescue the city we all love.”

In April, the organization People for Portland unveiled a towering four-story billboard criticizing DA Mike Schmidt, also near the intersection of Washington Street and Second Avenue, greeting passersby with the message “Portland is a Schmidt Show!”

While it’s unclear who helped People for Portland finance April’s political stunt, state business records showed that the public-benefit nonprofit corporation is managed by Kevin Looper, a local political consultant who previously worked with former Governors Kate Brown and John Kitzhaber.

While it’s unclear who helped People for Portland finance April’s political stunt, state business records showed that the public-benefit nonprofit corporation is managed by Kevin Looper, a local political consultant who previously worked with former Governors Kate Brown and John Kitzhaber.>>



<<The Sublimity Fire District, just southeast of Salem, posted video of their Comfort K-9 Probie being sworn in last month.

The Golden Retriever started providing emotional support to first responders during the historic 2020 wildfires. Nearly three years later, the fire district made his role official.

The fire district says its Comfort K-9 program is so successful it has added a 7-month old dog named Barnabe.>>


[KW NOTE: Cute, but shouldn’t this be a dalmatian?]