ST HELENS, Ore. -- A St. Helens woman is outraged after video surfaced showing a K-9 attacking her brother inside the Columbia County Jail.
“It was horrifying,” said the woman who wanted to be identified only as Shawna. “I had no idea they used that force on inmates.”
Shawna said her brother, Christopher Bartlett, suffers from undiagnosed mental health issues and never should have been subjected to that sort of treatment behind bars.
“They should take different steps,” she said. “They should maybe use mace or there were three officers that day…the three of them couldn't apprehend him and keep him under control?”
Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson says the scene played out in early August as deputies tried to move Bartlett from one area of the jail to another. The sheriff says the 47-year-old, who has been in jail more than 40 times in 17 years, would not comply with orders.
“Throwing things at the wall, at the door,” the sheriff said.
According to Sheriff Dickerson, deputies could have charged at Bartlett and tackled him. They even could have shocked him, but they chose the K-9 in hopes that its presence alone would calm Bartlett. It did not so deputies sent in the K-9, but not before giving Bartlett one last warning.
“The bottom line for us always is safety and security at the facility,” said Dickerson. “When we have inmates who refuse to comply with orders we have to go in and enforce those orders otherwise we lose control.”
Dickerson told The Oregonian/OregonLive on Friday he believes no laws were broken.
The explanation does not sit well with Bartlett's sister.
“I strongly feel he was mistreated there and it shouldn't happen to anybody else.”
Family has contacted a lawyer and they are considering a lawsuit.
The Columbia County District Attorney's Office will review the case.