A video circulating on Facebook this week showed what appeared to be a homeless man shivering shirtless in the cold outside the Douglas County Jail after having been released.
The video was posted by Julie Huffman who said it was taken by a friend about a week ago. As of noon Thursday, the original video had more than 86,000 views.
Huffman took down the video early Thursday afternoon. She said she had been contacted by the man’s family members who asked her to take it down.
In the video, a woman attempts to communicate with the man, who lies on the ground and is largely unresponsive. He’s not wearing shoes or a shirt. The woman speaks through an intercom to someone inside the jail and is told that the man has been released.
Sgt. Brad O’Dell, a spokesman for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, responded to an inquiry from The News-Review by issuing an email. In it, O’Dell wrote that the man in the video had been ordered to be released from custody by the Winston Municipal Court.
“The individual would not cooperate with deputies in his release process and refused to leave,” O’Dell said. “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.”
He said the sheriff’s office is “currently reviewing the facts surrounding this incident before additional statements are released.”
Directly across the street from the jail is a United Community Action Network office where clothing, supplies and support could have been provided, according to UCAN Homeless Outreach Coordinator Larry Clark.
Clark said he couldn’t comment on what happened with the jail facility, but if anyone had either called or walked across the street to his office at 308 SE Jackson St., he could have provided clothing, socks and hygiene supplies. It’s hard to provide shoes, he said, and he’d love to see more donations of those. Additional supplies and food are available at the Dream Center down the street, he said.
Clark also helps homeless people find the resources they need to get back on their feet.
“If we would have known, we definitely would have done something. That’s what we do,” he said.
The office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. but is closed from noon to 1 p.m.
Huffman said she was surprised by how many people watched and responded to the video while it was posted. She said she originally posted the video because she has a heart for the homeless.
“We don’t have a mental health facility here anymore and we need something like that. We used to have one. It was upsetting to me,” she said.
She said her intent wasn’t to make law enforcement look bad or to embarrass the family. She just wanted to illustrate how bad things are downtown.
“I see it all the time. I work downtown, and it’s horrible. I was just trying to make people aware of how really bad it is, and I didn’t agree with the way they handled it,” she said.