News

TV story investigates claim against Sheriff’s Office

By JUSTINE FREDERIKSEN

Staff writer

A Seattle television station will reportedly air an investigative piece tonight exploring a claim filed by a South Kitsap woman against the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, alleging that her son was mistreated during his incarceration in the Kitsap County Jail two summers ago.

According to a memo written to his staff by Sheriff Steve Boyer and disseminated by spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson, the story was investigated by KING 5 TV, and is based upon a claim for damages that was filed against the county last July by South Kitsap resident Marie Watson.

“The claim concerns the deteriorating health condition of a former jail inmate and alleges that this condition was a direct result of negligence/ indifference to the inmate’s health, medical and handicapped condition by corrections staff,” the memo states. “There is a strong possibility that this claim for damages may proceed to civil litigation in court.”

According to Wilson, Watson’s son, Edward Trask Jr., was arrested and booked into jail in late July 2006 on suspicion of a domestic violence assault.

Upon Trask’s release on Aug. 10, Wilson reports that he was arrested again by deputies that evening for another alleged domestic violence assault and third-degree malicious mischief. The victim in both instances was an immediate family member.

Nearly a year after both instances, Wilson said Watson, Trask’s legal guardian, filed the claim for damages against Kitsap County on July 17, 2007.

The claim alleges that Trask’s health has deteriorated, and that he has suffered permanent brain damage, as a direct result of negligence and/or indifference on the part of the by sheriff’s corrections staff in the jail. It also alleges that Trask’s civil rights were violated, and he was not given appropriate accommodation due to his mental handicap status.

According to Boyer’s response for an on-camera interview with KING 5, he states that his “agency finds no merit in Ms. Watson’s claim,” and that a prior complaint by Watson alleging her son’s condition by corrections officers was determined to be unfounded.

“All evidence reviewed indicated there was no assault against Mr. Trask by corrections officers or another inmate,” Boyer wrote.

Boyer’s office was contacted in December by KING 5 and asked for records pertaining to the case. A month later, a television crew toured the facility, but the sheriff’s office turned down a request for an on-camera interview.

“The claim against the county may proceed to civil litigation in a court of law, (and) as such it would be inappropriate for a sheriff’s office representative to publicly comment about this case,” Boyer wrote, after explaining that “this office is sympathetic to the seriousness of Mr. Trask’s health situation and we acknowledge the stress that it has brought upon his family. We are hopeful his health situation improves.”

Wilson said Trask formerly lived with his mother in South Kitsap, but now resides at a rehabilitation center in Bremerton.

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