Salem, OR – A former Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) deputy was stripped of his law enforcement certifications after an investigation determined that he lied about how a fellow police academy classmate got seriously injured.
The injuries were sustained during a 2017 incident that occurred in an Oregon Department of Public Safety Standard and Training (DPSST) dormitory on the police academy campus in Salem, The Oregonian reported.
Then-Portland Police Recruit Dustyn Matlock suffered a brain bleed, a fractured vertebra, an orbital fracture, and a broken wrist as result of what his classmates said was some roughhousing in the dorm.
But Recruit Matlock’s doctors said his injuries – which kept him hospitalized for more than a week – indicated the recruit had been body-slammed into the ground, The Oregonian reported.
Then-DCSO Recruit Joseph DeLance and other recruits who were present when the incident occurred failed to report what happened to the academy staff or seek medical treatment for Recruit Matlock.
DeLance later told investigators he had grabbed Recruit Matlock in a bear hug and lifted him slightly off the ground, The Oregonian reported.
He said that when he let go, Recruit Matlock fell over and hit the ground.
DeLance and two other recruits who were there at the time denied that Recruit Matlock had been slammed in any way, The Oregonian reported.
However, doctors said the blunt force trauma Matlock sustained wasn’t consistent with the other recruits’ stories.
Salem police investigated the incident and then DCSO Sheriff’s Deputy DeLance resigned from the sheriff’s department on April 16, 2020 under a cloud of suspicion, The Oregonian reported.
Now-Portland Police Officer Matlock, who is assigned to the Portland Police Bureau’s training division, filed a lawsuit against DeLance that alleged battery and negligence.
The lawsuit asked for $950,000 in damages, The Oregonian reported.
DeLance has denied the claim and is seeking immunity. Dechutes County has refused to represent him.
In the lawsuit, Officer Matlock said Recruit DeLance had asked him to grab his arm so he could demonstrate a maneuver he learned in defensive tactics, The Oregonian reported.
“Without warning, defendant lifted plaintiff off his feet, turned plaintiff’s body horizontally, threw and dropped plaintiff to the ground,” the complaint read.
The state board investigated the incident and determined that DeLance’s explanation of the events “reflected a continued minimization of the incident,” The Oregonian reported.
A staff memo from the DPSST on July 22 said the board had determine that DeLance’s behavior was reckless and violated the police academy’s rules and regulations.
The memo said the board had decided to revoke DeLance’s state law enforcement certifications for three years, The Oregonian reported.
“DeLance’s account of the events appears less than truthful given the extent of the injuries to the student and opinions from medical professionals,” the memo read. “Staff determined that DeLance’s attempts to minimize both his behavior and the extent of the injuries to the other student, as well as his failure to properly report the incident violated the Board’s moral fitness standards.”
The board found “his treatment of another officer who was injured is a poor reflection of police officers serving the public,” The Oregonian reported.
The two other recruits who were involved in the incident both resigned from the Oregon State Police on April 24, 2020, shortly after the investigation into the incident went public.
Former Oregon State Police Recruits Austin Daugherty and Dylan Hansen had finished their training at the police academy when they resigned, but had not yet completed the requirements for their police certification, The Oregonian reported.
DPSST would do a full moral fitness review of Daugherty or Hansen should either man apply again for a law enforcement job in Oregon.