Thursday, June 29, 2006

State Troopers Probing Custodial Death Of Anchorage Jail Inmate

The Alaska State Troopers Bureau of Investigation is probing the subsequent death of an Anchorage Jail inmate resulting from a broken neck incurred in a scuffle between the inmate and State Troopers. Click here for the full story published on June 29th, 2006 in the Anchorage Daily News.

Douglas Wayne Jensen, 57, died of a broken neck and other related injuries at Alaska Regional Hospital on Saturday, 10 days after he was injured while being booked into the Anchorage Correctional Complex, according to Alaska State Troopers. Jensen, a Fairbanks resident, was arrested by Anchorage police June 14 after he became angry and refused to pay a $40 cab fare after failing to find his car at a local towing company, an Anchorage Police Department spokesman said.

Corrections Commissioner Marc Antrim regretfully declined to discuss the specifics of the case on the advice of state attorneys who have advised him not to comment while the investigation is under way. The Corrections Department operates the jail. Brad Wilson, business manager for the Alaska Correctional Officers Association, which represents correctional officers, issued a press release stating that he has talked to the five officers involved and defended their actions. The statement says taking combative individuals to the floor "is a common control technique that prevents injury to both the inmate and the officer", while acknowledging that "in the thousands of take-downs that happen every year in the corrections environment, there is always the possibility that someone can be hurt".

However, inmate Scott Murrison was considerably more forthcoming. In a telephone interview from jail Wednesday, Murrison said he was in the booking area when Jensen was being processed into the correctional complex on June 14th. Murrison said he had been returned to Alaska from Washington on a parole violation stemming from a robbery conviction here in 1998. Murrison said Jensen was belligerent, yelling and cursing at the officers. His hands were cuffed behind his back and he tried to pull away as officers moved him toward a cell, Murrison said.

"They were going to put him in a room because he was so angry," Murrison said. "He kind of pulled back," and one of the officers extended a foot in front of him and "sort of just flipped him" forward onto the floor. He landed on his head, and it folded under him."

Murrison said one officer dropped onto Jensen's back, then two others. "They jumped on him, and then pushed him into a room," he said, adding that Jensen appeared unconscious. A nurse came to tend to Jensen, and an oxygen apparatus was brought in, Murrison said. Some time after that -- Murrison guessed 20 minutes -- medics arrived.

When asked about Murrison's allegations, Brad Wilson declined to address the specifics. He said the officers perform a dangerous, difficult service. "Correctional officers are assaulted thousands of times daily in this country," he said. "Alaska's correctional officers are no different; they manage violent, unpredictable and combative remands (people being booked into jail) every day."

Wilson said he could neither confirm nor deny whether the prisoner was in handcuffs. But in an a follow-up e-mail late Wednesday, he wrote: "A handcuffed inmate that becomes combative can still do a lot of damage, a lot of bodily harm. If a handcuffed inmate becomes combative, the use-of-force policy allows for that inmate to be restrained to the ground and controlled, again, for both the safety of the inmate as well as the officer. You would be shocked at how many Alaska Correctional Officers are injured by handcuffed inmates."

Parallels With The Gerald Haynes Case

There are similarities between this case and the case of Gerald Haynes, who died on March 20, 2004 after a scuffle with bouncers at Chilkoot Charlie's. To refresh faded memories, Haynes, after becoming intoxicated, started acting belligerently. After being successfully ejected once from the nightclub, he returned to continue the argument, after which he was swarmed and taken down by several bouncers. He died immediately thereafter. A letter to the editor from David Nathanson entitled "Koot's Apology Not Good Enough", published in the May 5th, 2004 issue of the Anchorage Press, summarizes the findings. According to this letter, on April 2nd, 2004, it was reported in the Anchorage Daily News that Gerald Haynes' death was ruled a homicide from “positional and compression asphyxia” according to acting state medical examiner Dr. Franc Fallico. “What caused it was the position Mr. Haynes' body was in,” Fallico said in the Daily News article. The article said Haynes stopped breathing while lying face down in handcuffs on the floor of Chilkoot's Swing Bar.

The common denominators: Both individuals were cuffed, both were swarmed, both were taken down, and in both cases, the position of the body may have been a factor, although Gerald Haynes' neck was not broken.

Analysis: First, the account of the inmate must be taken with a grain of salt. While Scott Murrison is a remand prisoner rather than an actual convict, inmates do not exactly have a strong vested personal interest in representing the actions of law enforcement in the most favorable possible light. It does appear, by his syntax, that Murrison is making a reasonable effort to be as objective as possible.

Second, the investigation should bring out whether and/or when troopers knew about Jensen's broken neck. Unless a victim's head is in a completely unnatural position, a broken neck can be difficult to spot in advance. The timely medical response implies that troopers knew something had gone seriously wrong and were taking corrective measures. However, if they did not know that Jensen's neck was broken, they may not have immobilized him properly at the outset. It is common medical wisdom that you must immobilize a suspected broken neck patient immediately.

Third, the reaction of some of the community to Gerald Haynes' death, irrationally blaming it all on Chilkoot Charlie's, implies some people have a fundamental misunderstanding of how security and law enforcement personnel are supposed to operate. We certainly pay these people to put themselves in harm's way; we expect them to take a lick or two now and again. They also not only expect it, but specifically train for it. However, we also pay them to resolve disturbances as quickly, efficiently, and professionally as possible. The longer it takes security to resolve a disturbance, the greater the risk of injury and/or death to all parties, collateral damage, and even outside interference by bystanders (the latter a critical triggering mechanism in the 1965 Watts riots). Security and law enforcement personnel are not obliged to give a "suspect" a "fair" fight or a "fair" opportunity to escape. This is a manifestation of the exaggerated sense of fairness that allowed the civil rights movement to shift from the commendable goal of equal opportunity to the extortionate goal of equal outcome. This same sense of "fairness" has allowed this country to become overrun by at least 12 million illegal immigrants, even to the point of putting water stations in the Arizona desert to aid and abet their illegal entry into the United States, in the name of "humanity" and "compassion". This isn't fairness, it's masochism.

Through their belligerency and physical resistance, both Gerald Haynes and Douglas Wayne Jensen triggered the events leading to their deaths, and correspondingly bear primary responsibility. In the understandable and commendable effort to investigate this matter, let's not put handcuffs on the cops.

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  1. Your story (granted, it was this past summer) on the parallels between an inmate and Gerald Haynes is so littered with misconceptions and non-truths, I don't even know where to start. Did you by chance watch the video taken by chikoot charlie's during Gerald's physcial altercation? do understand the lack of laws governing chilkoot's security? a security system I might add, based on absolutely no rules, and a company paying over-zealous "bouncers" roughly $8/hour. I would be delighted to enlighten you on the circumstances of that night backed by video, police reports and civil court papers if you have the time. Otherwise I find it grossly neglectful that you have a blog posted for anyone's eyes that is lacking in so many facts.

    I was, a lifelong friend of Gerald's and well-versed and knowledgeable in the circumstances surrounding his untimely death.

  2. Gerald Haynes was a very kind and loving person and for the record, backed up by the coroner's report and the Anchorage Daily News, Gerald was not intoxicated and was not in any way physical or confrontational with security. The security guards at Chilkoot's are noted for their brutality and for the use of unnecessary force. At the time of Gerald's death, there were 4 pending lawsuits against Chilkoot's for personal injuries, and 26 total since 1985. Gerald was handcuffed and on the video tape he says, "I can't breathe, get off me" and they didn't listen. Gerald was also brutally beaten to the point where his ribs had portruded through the skin and he had a 1/2 inch gouge on the back of his head, a huge hematomah on his eye and black and blue marks all over his body, except for his hands and feet. I saw his body and so I know this to be true and factual, and it was noted on the coroner's report.

    One of the security guards for Chilkoot's was discharged from Mary Conrad Center for suspected elderly abuse and others had a history of prior assaults. One of the guards had marajuana in his system. You get what you pay for, you pay peanuts you get monkeys for security. Over 200 people wrote to the assembly to ask that their license be revoked. Unfortunately, Dick Traini, whom received $50K from the owner of Koots, never would grant a hearing. It is the only time in the history of the state that this many letters from the public have been written to revoke a liquor license. If this incident had occurred in any other state, this bar would have been closed down permanently. Since Gerald was handcuffed, there was no reason to beat and suffocate him to death. I notice that this bar doesn't have as many patrons as it did before this homicide. Course, I would be worried to be a patron at Koots, because there is always that possibility that if you go there, you may never come back alive.

    1. whatever happened to those bouncers? are they in prison? did his death go to trial?

    2. did you ever investigate any of those bouncers? was one a great big tall red head? he moved to Virginia , said he had worked at Koots and he is scary, and what is scarier is he is an elementary school principal. a guy here named Tom says he used to own Koots??? do you know anything about these guys?

  3. To compare the death of a jail inmate, involving State Troopers, to the death of Gerald Haynes, involving minimum wage security guards who delight in using unnecessary force with violence is like comparing apples to oranges. For one thing, the majority of State Troopers are not in the habit of beating their prisoners to death, suffocating them with 14 state troopers on top of the prisoner, with handcuffs behind the prisoner's back. Our State Troopers are honorable men and women and I trust them.

    However, the security guards at Chilkoot's, where some of them have prior rape, domestic violence and assault charges with a rap sheet a mile long, whom delight in looking for brawls and enjoy the thrill of kicking a patron when they are down and handcuffed, with no way to defend themselves. Do not insult our State Troopers by comparing them or putting the Koot's security guards in the same league as our State Troopers. I know without a doubt, that had the State Troopers been the security guards on duty the night Gerald Haynes was there (instead of rent-a-cops) this homicide would have never occurred in the first place.

  4. There was no intent to put private security guards on the same level as Alaska State Troopers. But the situations were similar; two individuals reportedly getting out of control, requiring physical force to subdue them. When a person starts "chimping out", requiring application of physical force to subdue them, bad things can happen.

    Also, I find it difficult to believe the security guards at Koots had the "bloodlust" as some people portray. They may have been grossly untrained compared to the Troopers, but they still would want to keep their jobs.

    1. You just don't know shit about this topic and don't have any right to talk about somebody who was murdered in the way that you are. Gerald Haynes didn't physically resist he stopped at the door and asked for his wallet and jacket before he would leave and was pulled back into the bar and assaulted. They weren't worried about losing their jobs because Koot's owner and employees don't care and know all the ratchet 21 year old sluts will still come here. You clearly have never been to Koots

  5. (Denny) Douglas Jensen was my cousin. He was a great man! How he died is inexcusable! More investigation into this needs to take place.

  6. Denise JENSEN7/26/2011 9:02 AM

    Anchorage Activist......were you there when these situations took place? Do you know they went down the way that they said? My 57 year old cousins neck was broke, and he was thrown into a holding area with a broken neck.
    Tell me that there was no signs of something being wrong. Untrained = they are NOT qualified for the job. They should be held liable!

    1. Denise...please contact me regarding Doug...