Corrections Deputy Under Scrutiny in Latest Jail Death Says He’s Been Fired

The former corrections officer, Kirk Evanoff, had noted that Clemente Pineda was face down and unresponsive for much of the afternoon prior to his death.

A Multnomah County corrections deputy under scrutiny following the death of an inmate earlier this month tells WW he has been fired.

Kirk Evanoff was the deputy assigned to watch 36-year-old Clemente Pineda’s dorm the afternoon of Aug. 1. Throughout the afternoon, Pineda was face down on the floor of his cell, breathing but not responding to questions, Evanoff says.

The county has so far released little information about Pineda’s death. Evanoff’s account, combined with documents obtained by WW, offer hints about the circumstances of his death—including that Pineda was unresponsive for hours and received no medical care, Evanoff says. That information raises questions about whether the jail did enough to stop a fatality.

At the time, Evanoff was working the tail end of a 16-hour double shift. He was also assigned to supervise double the typical number of inmates because the shift was short-staffed, according to Evanoff and a jail roster obtained by WW.

Evanoff’s shift ended at 3:30 pm. Deputies began efforts to save Pineda’s life a little under an hour later, according to the county press release.

Pineda was found “unresponsive” around 4:15 pm and died after “corrections deputies immediately began lifesaving measures and called for jail medical staff,” the release said.

WW obtained a copy of a log entry written by Evanoff that says Pineda had appeared unresponsive for hours. “Inmate Pineda has been laying face down by the door since lunch. He was unresponsive during medpass but is most definitely breathing. He has been checked on every check since and will not respond. Info in case next Deputy sees his cell (7D26) empty,” Evanoff wrote that day at 2:46 pm.

The two documents obtained by WW—roster and jail log—and the account provided by Evanoff offer new details into the sixth death inside Multnomah County jails in three months. They illustrate concerning circumstances inside the jail as employees face staffing shortages, a rise in smuggled fentanyl, and the increasing number of mentally ill inmates under their care.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to WW’s questions about Evanoff’s firing.

Evanoff, who was hired a year ago and was nearing the end of his probationary period, says he was told on Aug. 10 to report to Human Resources and was terminated the following day. HR refused to provide a reason for his termination, he says.

“I was scapegoated,” Evanoff tells WW. He says that county medical staff accompanied him on one of the five times he checked on Pineda’s cell that afternoon, and emphasized that the word “unresponsive” has multiple meanings. “I followed policy,” he says. “He showed no signs of distress and was breathing.”

Pineda didn’t respond when asked if he wanted medication, Evanoff says. “It’s pretty standard stuff that somebody doesn’t answer us,” Evanoff says. “People refuse or just ignore us all the time.”

Pineda was the sixth death in custody so far this year in Multnomah County jails, a staggering number. Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell has said that early indications are that some of the deaths are “drug-related,” and has brought back strip searches in an effort to keep fentanyl out of the jails.

The county has not released the cause of Pineda’s death.

O’Donnell has said she’s asked the Oregon State Police to assist in investigating the six deaths. She has also asked the National Institute of Corrections to review the jails’ policies.

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