Deschutes Co. Sheriff’s son part of group involved in police academy incident; placed on administrative leave

A Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office deputy was one of three law enforcement officers placed on paid administrative leave following an investigation into his conduct last fall during a police academy training session.

And new on Monday, Central Oregon Daily has learned an Oregon State Police recruit involved is the son of Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson.

The Marion County DA office investigated the incident, which occurred in October at a Department of Public Safety Standards and Training campus dorm room.  The incident involved probationary Deschutes County Deputy Sheriff Deputy Joseph DeLance, two Oregon State Police recruits, and a Portland Police Bureau officer.

One of the OSP recruits, Austin Daugherty, is Nelson’s son.

Friday, the DCSO learned that the Marion County DA would not file criminal charges against the three.

“While declining criminal charges, the findings of the Marion County District Attorney’s Office are critical of the conduct of the law enforcement officers involved, including Deputy DeLance,” said Sgt. William Bailey in a statement released Friday night. “The conduct described in Marion County District Attorney’s Office findings does not meet the expectations of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.”

Upon receiving the findings of the Marion County DA’s office regarding the investigation, Deputy DeLance was placed on paid administrative leave, Bailey said.

According to the Marion County DA’s memo, the incident involved an injury suffered by a police recruit the night of October 17th while he was practicing defensive tactics with three other police recruits – including DeLance – in a dorm room.

The other involved parties were Austin Daugherty and Dylan Hansen who were attending the Basic Police Academy along with Dustyn Matlock on behalf of their respective law enforcement agencies, according to the memo.

Matlock suffered significant injuries including a brain bleed and spinal fracture.

“Due to the nature and severity of his injuries, Dustyn Matlock has no memory of how he got hurt. Investigators were therefore left with the versions of DeLance, Daugherty and Hansen to try to determine what actually took place that night,” the memo said. 

“While not totally consistent, DeLance, Daugherty and Hansen’s versions all shared the same general details.  In essence, they claimed that while practicing clinchwork, DeLance grabbed Matlock in a bear hug and lifted him slightly off the ground, let go and that Matlock somehow then fell over and hit the ground.  All three deny that DeLance slammed Matlock in any way,” the memo reads. 

“The investigation revealed that DeLance, Daugherty and Hansen’s versions were not supported by medical opinion evidence based on Matlock’s injuries; nor were their versions consistent with a common-sense analysis of how injuries such as Matlock’s could ever be sustained,” according to the memo.

“Nevertheless, determining if a crime occurred requires proving what actually happened and not simply disproving a false or fabricated story.   That is particularly true in a case like this, where the injured person (Matlock) was voluntarily engaging in the conduct that led to his injuries.

“Simply put, even if DeLance, Daugherty, and Hansen had been candid with investigators it is unlikely, given the totality of the circumstances, that criminal charges would have been filed,” the memo said. 

The 9-page report goes into detail about the night of the incident, the activity that caused the injury and the subsequent investigation.

It concludes: “The behavior of Joseph DeLance, Austin Daugherty and Dylan Hansen the night of October 17, 2019, while not criminal, should [cause] serious concerns about their character. Their lack of candor about the incident during the subsequent law enforcement investigation should cause serious concerns about their credibility.

However, even more disturbing is their disgraceful and irresponsible attitude towards Dustyn Matlock’s injuries.  The fact that they would rather let a friend and classmate (or anyone for that matter) suffer than risk getting in trouble is antithetical to what real police officers do: protect others.  Police officers leave their homes every day willing to risk their lives for the safety of others.  On October 17, 2019, Joseph DeLance, Austin Daugherty and Dylan Hansen did the opposite – they risked another’s life to save themselves.”

Bailey said the DCSO will conduct its own internal investigation into the incident to determine whether DeLance violated any office policies.

“Deputy DeLance will be afforded due process during this internal investigation and have legal representation,” Bailey said.

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Salem Police Department and the Marion County District Attorney’s Office for their investigation and review of this matter.

The Marion County District Attorney’s memo can be found here: http://www.flashalertportland.net/

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