Douglas County and the Douglas County Jail are facing a $500,000 lawsuit from a Drain man who claims that mistreatment by a corrections deputy led to the loss of the tips of two of his fingers.
In a complaint filed in Douglas County Circuit Court on Sept. 16, Matthew James Olmsted, 53, alleges that during an altercation in the Douglas County Jail on Dec. 20, 2020, a cell door was slammed closed on Olmsted’s left hand, ultimately leading to the surgical removal of the tips of his middle and ring finger.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on the pending litigation.
Olmsted had originally been arrested on Oct. 1, 2020, after he allegedly set fire to a laundromat in Yoncalla and, according to court documents, was located nearby because he “wanted to make a point.” Olmsted had been previously trespassed from the property.
In his complaint, Olmsted alleges that upon his booking into the Douglas County Jail, he was immediately placed in a segregation cell within the complex under the name William James Coty.
William Frederick Coty was more famously known as “Buffalo Bill.”
During an altercation with the corrections deputy on Dec. 20, 2020, Olmsted alleges in the complaint that the deputy struck Olmsted, forced him back into his cell then “slammed” the door. Olmsted reportedly attempted to stop the door from closing, which resulted in the injuries to his left hand.
Shortly after, Olmsted was transferred to the Oregon State Hospital in Salem for a psychiatric evaluation, where he states in his complaint he ultimately received surgery to partially repair his fingers.
During his stay at the Oregon State Hospital, Olmsted sent two packets to The News-Review including hand-written letters and case files.
In a letter dated Aug. 1, 2021, Olmsted claimed that a camera had been installed in his forehead above his right eyebrow in 2003. That claim is in the opening paragraph of his letter, which also alleges “my mother and sister and my exe’s (sic) and a film crew set me up and had me admitted to Idaho State Hospital South.”
Idaho State Hospital South is located in Blackfoot, Idaho.
In the same collection of papers sent to The News-Review, Olmsted wrote that he was going to file a tort claim against three Douglas County Circuit Court Justices — George W. Ambrosini, Ann Marie Simmons and William A. Marshall — as well as his original defense attorney, Eric C. Swallow of Umpqua Valley Public Defenders.
None of them have been named in the tort complaint filed with the circuit court.
Olmsted is asking for $200,000 in economic damages and $300,000 in non-economic damages, according to the complaint.
Olmsted was formally arraigned on Oct. 2, 2020, and charged with first-degree arson, assault of a public safety officer and a litany of other charges. He was in the custody of the Douglas County Jail as of Thursday morning. Bail was set at $125,000.
The next court hearing on his criminal case is set for Nov. 29. A hearing for his tort claim against the county has not yet been scheduled.