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Actor suing Jackson County Jail seeks up to $706,000

Deputies Michael Hammond and Brady Bjorkland walk away from Juan Anthony "Tony" Sancho after chaining him to a grate in a Jackson County Jail dry cell. Sancho filed a lawsuit surrounding his treatment at the jail earlier this week. Photo filed in U.S. District Court in Medford.

A California stage actor has amended his excessive force lawsuit against the Jackson County Jail seeking damages well into the six figures for his treatment in a dry holding cell.

Juan Anthony Sancho, 44, who acts under the stage name Tony Sancho, filed an amended lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court in Medford that expands on his claims that corrections deputies used excessive force while he was kept in a holding cell reserved for intoxicated inmates the morning of April 18, 2019, following an arrest in Ashland on a misdemeanor charge that was never prosecuted.

Sancho, who lives in South Pasadena, California, had a lead role in Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Mother Road” at the time of his arrest.

The lawsuit alleges that three corrections deputies used excessive force when they “delivered unnecessary knee strikes” to Sancho’s back and kneeled on his upper back. A fourth deputy was involved in chaining Sancho to the floor after he contorted his body to move his handcuffed arms from behind his back to his front.

Sancho was chained to the holding cell’s concrete floor via a urine drainage grate for more than two hours, according to unedited, time-stamped jail surveillance video released to the media by Sancho’s lawyers last summer.

The revised lawsuit alleges that 12 jail staffers — including a sergeant — knew that Sancho was chained and handcuffed to the floor, and none intervened.

“None of these defendants interceded to stop the excessive force or to otherwise protect (Sancho), but each had the opportunity to do so,” the lawsuit filed April 9 by Medford lawyers Richard Thierolf Jr. and Matthew Rowan states.

The suit alleges that Sgt. Jeffrey Carpenter, who entered Sancho’s cell at one point, “was especially suited to intercede” because of his rank.

“All of the defendant jailers witnessed or were aware of the excessive force in some way,” the lawsuit states. “For instance, they saw (Sancho) chained to the floor in his cell or knew that he was chained there.”

The county has not yet responded to the revised suit, but responded to the earlier suit by stating that deputies David Dalton, Brady Bjorkland and Michael Hammond used force that was “justified and reasonable under the circumstances.” The county stated that the force they used on Sancho was “believed to be necessary” to defend the deputies “from the use or imminent use of physical force and/or damage to county property.”

The new suit expands the bystanders’ liability, citing duty to intercede policies for sworn officers in the JCSO handbook.

“As jailers, said defendants could and should have interceded and protected (Sancho),” the lawsuit states.

Sancho’s amended suit adds a dollar amount for the damages from the county “in an amount not to exceed $706,000.”

Sancho claims he suffered physical pain, emotional distress and briefly lost consciousness while chained to the cell floor. He was allowed to make a phone call at 11:30 a.m. April 18 and released from jail at 12:45 p.m.

Sancho states that he sought medical care for injuries he sustained at the jail in the days that followed.

On April 19, Sancho visited an urgent care clinic but claims that the unnamed clinic refused to see him. On April 20, Sancho went to the Ashland Community Hospital emergency room for pain in his right hand and right wrist, among other bruises, according to the lawsuit. X-rays showed a “small joint effusion in his left knee.” The hospital offered pain medication that Sancho declined.

Ashland police and the city of Ashland are not named as defendants in Sancho’s lawsuit because the police department was not involved in the actor’s treatment at the jail.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.