EUGENE, Ore. — Eugene police say a probationary police officer is no longer with the department, and the lawyer for a man arrested on a drunken-driving charge has given the city notice of intent to sue over “significant injuries” caused by a beating at the jail.
Eugene police said they cut ties with the officer, Charles Caruso, on Dec. 19 — a little more than three months after the incident at the jail. Prosecutors are reviewing the suspect’s allegation to determine if Caruso should be charged with assault.
Police Chief Pete Kerns acknowledged in a statement to The Register-Guard newspaper that Shaymond Michelson sustained injuries when Caruso used force while arresting him Sept. 13. Because of Michelson’s potential lawsuit and the pending criminal investigation involving Caruso, Kerns will not speak in detail about the case, a police spokeswoman said.
Caruso was with the department for 17 months, one month before his probationary status was scheduled to end. He declined comment when contacted by the newspaper.
Michelson’s lawyer, Christopher Cournoyer, informed the city last month that his client intends to sue for unspecified damages. Michelson was handcuffed when Caruso caused him “significant injuries” at the jail, Cournoyer wrote in the tort-claim notice.
The Register-Guard reports the area of the jail where Caruso allegedly beat Michelson has at least one video camera, but the authorities have yet to release any footage.
The Register-Guard obtained a copy of the affidavit Caruso wrote in support of Michelson’s arrest. In the document, Caruso stated that he took Michelson into custody after finding him passed out in a vehicle in the middle of a street.
The affidavit characterizes Michelson as being uncooperative at the jail.
“Michelson refused to go into the booking area and I put him on the ground,” Caruso wrote. “A Lane County deputy, wearing uniform and displaying a badge, assisted me with Michelson. Michelson was on his back at this time and kicked the deputy in the side of the head with his right leg. The deputy was able to catch the kick and was not injured.”
Michelson, who had a black eye and puffy face in his mug shot, was later convicted of drunk driving.
But Lane County Chief Deputy District Attorney Patty Perlow took the unusual step of dismissing three other charges to which Michelson had pleaded guilty. Although he had admitted wrongdoing, Perlow informed the court in writing that “a material element of the crimes” could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Perlow said Thursday she dismissed the charges, all misdemeanors, after learning of the police-brutality investigation involving Caruso.
“Under the circumstances I thought I had an ethical obligation to dismiss the charges other than the DUII,” Perlow said.
Her office has asked prosecutors in neighboring Douglas County to determine whether Caruso committed any crimes.
Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com