An Oregon sheriff’s deputy was caught on camera slapping a disabled man across the face as he was pushed into a jail cell in his wheelchair by three other officers. Officers at Jackson County Sheriff’s Office later left 63-year-old John Malaer partially naked on the floor of the cell with a small smock that did not cover his body.
Reports state that Malaer is an advocate for homeless people with disabilities. According to his representatives, he was in his wheelchair on July 11, 2019, when he got stuck while trying to catch a bus in Medford. Police were reportedly called to the scene after Malaer threw stones at a nearby store, which he said he did to get someone’s attention and help. Malaer was then taken to the Jackson County Jail on allegations of disorderly conduct and harassment. He was allegedly subject to unnecessary force while in jail, his attorney said.
Malaer was kept in custody for 20 hours before being released with the charges dismissed. The horrific footage revealed now shows how the elderly man was slapped by Jackson County Deputy Brian Kolkemo before being dragged from his wheelchair. Kolkemo is seen violently and forcefully slapping the disabled man. He told state police that Malaer was waving his arms and grabbing at deputies who tried to put jail scrubs on him. Kolkemo also claimed he decided to slap him instead of pushing him out of the chair.
Malaer drags himself onto the mat while screaming for help. He was allegedly forced to urinate on the floor of the cell several times because he had no access to a catheter. He only had access to water through the cell’s toilet as he was disabled and could not reach the sink.
Oregon State Police investigated the matter after Malaer filed a complaint with Medford police after being released. In a federal civil rights lawsuit, his lawyer Alicia LeDuc Montgomery wrote, according to the report, “he use of force was unnecessary because Plaintiff was already restrained with handcuffs, paralyzed, and being held down in the wheelchair by other deputies.”
Malaer, who is suing the deputy who slapped him, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, other deputies and Medford Police, said that his arrest was false and malicious. He said authorities used excessive force, retaliation, discrimination and violation of his rights under the Americans with Disability Act. The lawsuit further claimed deputies forced Malaer’s head between his legs as he was handcuffed in a wheelchair.
The sheriff’s lawyer, Johan Pietila, responded to the lawsuit claiming Malaer was “uncooperative during pat down and refused to remove clothing or answer questions” while with the custody nurse. He also denied the allegation that Malaer was not given “adequate care” while in the custody of the Sheriff’s office.
Reportedly, state police referred their investigation to the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office for consideration of fourth-degree assault and harassment charges against Kolkemo. However, prosecutors declined to further pursue the case. It is unclear if Kolkemo faced any discipline following the incident. The criminal charges against Malaer were dropped by prosecutors last year.