An Oregon sheriff’s deputy was caught on video attacking a paraplegic activist before shoving him into a jail cell without his wheelchair.
The officer can be seen slapping John Lee Malaer before leaving the disabled man half-naked on the cell floor without the wheelchair or access to his catheter, which he needed to relieve himself, according to footage from the cell obtained by The Oregonian.
Medford cops picked up Malaer in in 2019 after his wheelchair got caught on the sidewalk and he allegedly threw stones at a store in order to get the clerk’s attention.
He was charged with disorderly conduct and harassment. The charges were ultimately dropped after the store clerk who called the police died.
During his 20 hours in custody, Malaer was forced to urinate on his cell floor multiple times and defecated on the mattress because he didn’t have his catheter, according to his attorney, Alicia LeDuc Montgomery.
Malear, an advocate for homeless people with disabilities, alleges that he was slapped twice while in custody. One of the slaps was caught on video, and a deputy admitted to the other slap during a state police investigation.
He also claimed that deputies forced his head between his legs while he was cuffed and his wheelchair while he was being processed, despite not physically resisting.
Additionally, LeDuc Montgomery said her client’s only access to water was the cell toilet for five hours because he could not reach the sink.
Malaer, 63, is now suring the deputy who slapped him, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement officers, according to the Oregonian. He claims he was victim of malicious arrest, use of excessive force, retaliation, discrimination and that his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act were violated.
Jackson County Deputy Brian Kolkemo admitted to slapping Malaer in the face twice following a state investigation. While he is required to document any use of force, he did not in this case. Kokemo described the slap to investigators as a “distraction strike.”
He said he chose to slap Malaer instead of dumping him out of the wheelchair, which he thought could be more violent.
Following the investigation, the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office considered fourth-degree assault and harassment charges against Kolkemo, but prosecutors declined to pursue the case, according to the state police records, the Oregonian reported.
It’s not clear if Kolkemo was disciplined by the sheriff’s office.