Request your Free Consultation

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



Posted on December 15, 2023 in Official misconduct

Since May 2023, seven inmates have died while in custody at a Multnomah County jail. The Sheriff’s office claims this to be the highest spike in inmate deaths in the last 15 years.  Two Multnomah County jail deputies, James Brauckmiller and Michael Mersereau, were indicted with first-degree official misconduct in association with the death of two inmates earlier in 2023.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office did not specify the exact misconduct committed or the deaths they were connected to but released a statement stating that the deputies may have failed to perform their duties as required. This announcement comes after an investigation by Oregon State Police was sparked due to an unusually high number of deaths at Multnomah jails this year.

The incidents that caused the indictment of the two Multnomah County jail deputies may point to a larger issue associated with how Multnomah County jails are run and the lack of repercussions its jail officers face for their misconduct. While no further details are available surrounding this specific incident, it is important to note that inmates have the right to be treated with adequate care and be kept safe.

How Can Official Misconduct Cause Jail Inmates to Suffer Serious or Fatal Harm?

There are several types of misconduct that jail officers may participate in that can inflict serious or even fatal harm on inmates, including:

  • Excessive Use of Force: the use of unnecessary or excessive physical force against inmates.
  • Abuse of Authority: this may include intimidation, harassment, or other forms of abuse directed toward inmates.
  • Smuggling or Trafficking Contraband: engaging in the illegal transportation or trading of prohibited items within the jail environment.
  • Engaging in Inappropriate Relationships: cultivating inappropriate relationships with inmates, either personal or sexual misconduct.
  • Failure to Act: failing to intervene when witnessing misconduct or failing to step in and help in an emergency situation.
  • Failure to Provide Medical Care: neglecting to provide necessary medical care to inmates, this includes mental health resources and care.
  • Neglect of Duty: failure to perform assigned duties, neglecting responsibilities, or not following established procedures and protocol.

When an officer participates in official misconduct it puts inmates in a vulnerable situation that may ultimately lead to death. It is the responsibility of jail officers to ensure the security and safety of inmates, so if they fail to do so, no one is looking out for the well-being of the inmates. An Oregon jail deputy medical misconduct lawyer can help if you or a loved one have been harmed by negligent or intentional acts of authorities.

While it is unknown what form of misconduct the two officers charged in Multnomah County participated in, ultimately it led to the undue death of two inmates, which more than likely could have been prevented.

What Rights Do Inmates Have?

While incarcerated, inmates have rights as outlined in the US Constitution. The rights of incarcerated inmates include:

  • The right to assert their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • The right to humane conditions and facilities
  • The right to express complaints about their conditions
  • The right to medical care and attention as needed
  • The right to appropriate mental health care
  • The right to a hearing if they are to be moved to a mental health facility
  • The right to be free from sexual crimes
  • The right to be free from racial segregation

Legal Options For Families Beyond The Criminal System

Two different types of cases may occur after an inmate dies in prison, criminal and civil. Criminal cases occur when the government files a case to punish someone for committing a crime. A civil case involves a legal dispute between two or more parties usually involving suing someone for money in disputes over things like property damage or someone getting hurt. Damages awarded in these civil cases can include compensation for medical expenses, funeral costs, and pain and suffering.

If your loved one dies in prison due to official misconduct, you or your family may wish to pursue a civil case for wrongful death on behalf of your loved one. In your wrongful death claim, there may be several parties that you can hold accountable for your loved one’s death, depending on the specifics of your case. Responsible parties may include:

  • Correctional Facility Administration: The correctional facility administration includes supervisors and managers. They may be held accountable if the wrongful death is linked to improper policies or inadequate training.
  • Healthcare Providers: If the inmate’s death was the result of inadequate medical care or negligence on behalf of healthcare providers contracted to provide services within the prison, these providers may be held responsible.
  • Individuals: If the death was the result of actions by jail officers, other inmates, visitors, or third parties, those individuals may be found responsible and face legal consequences.
  • Medical Professionals: If the inmate’s death was due to medical malpractice, the prison medical professionals could be held accountable.

It is important to note that determining responsibility for the wrongful death of an inmate in prison involves a thorough investigation, and available legal actions vary depending on the circumstances specific to your loved one’s death. If you wish to pursue legal action for the death of your loved one while in prison, it is best to consult with an attorney who has experience with wrongful death claims and civil rights laws.

How Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC Can Help

At Paulson Coletti, we offer comprehensive legal services to support our clients. We understand that dealing with the aftermath of officer misconduct and the death of your loved one can be difficult and you may be unsure about what steps to take next, this is where we can help. Our experienced team of attorneys can provide:

  • Results: we have the dedication and experience to help you pursue the maximum possible recovery in your case. Our attorneys are skilled in building strong cases for wrongful death claims and we have a deep understanding of civil rights laws and the rights of inmates.
  • Personalized Legal Services: we tailor our legal services to fit the needs of each client so that you feel all your needs have been met.
  • Compassion: we will handle your case with care and compassion as we know this can be a difficult time for you.

If your loved one or someone you know has experienced mistreatment in prison or wrongfully lost their life due to officer misconduct, contact Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys today to learn more and set up a free, no-obligations consultation. Call us at (503) 226-6361 or contact us online.