Illustration by Chelsea Lovejoy

A Hidden Death

Last year a Eugene man was arrested during a mental health crisis. He died two days after deputies knelt on his back at the Lane County Jail.

Landon Payne needed help. 

On a Friday night in March 2020, Landon Payne returned to his Eugene home high on meth, panicked and paranoid. He’d been clean for three years, but now, after using methamphetamine again, he believed people wanted to kill him. 

His wife wanted to help. Angie Payne knew Landon had a history of mental health issues, especially when he was on meth. So that night, with Landon high and frightened, she turned to the Eugene Police Department. It made sense — she’d done the same thing three years earlier. Back then, the police took Landon to a hospital on a mental health hold for his safety. Why wouldn’t they help him again?

This time, the Eugene police chose not to help.

Instead, EPD officers set into motion a chain of events that led to Landon Payne’s death, according to a joint Eugene Weekly and Catalyst Journalism Project investigation.

Records show the officers dismissed signs of Payne’s mental instability and discounted EPD policies about dealing with people experiencing a mental health crisis. 

Payne had committed no crime and posed no threat to anyone. EPD’s policies call for officers, if possible, to avoid arresting someone in crisis and instead seek to de-escalate the situation and offer assistance. 

But records show two of three officers at the scene had not received EPD’s mandatory crisis intervention training for dealing with people experiencing a mental-health crisis. 

Rather than help Payne, the EPD officers decided to arrest him on a three-year-old warrant from a civil child-support case. As it turned out, Marion County, which issued the warrant, didn’t want Payne. It was a warrant that, as it turned out, did not need to be enforced.

The unnecessary arrest flipped Payne from panic into delirium. The EPD officers refused to take Payne to a hospital and insisted he be booked in the Lane County Jail. At the jail, sheriff’s deputies pinned Payne face down on a concrete floor in order to control him. At least two deputies placed their knees on Payne’s back, according to documents and a video of the incident reviewed by EW.

At one point, a gasping Payne told deputies, “I can’t breathe.”

Payne’s heart stopped 63 seconds after that. Deputies and emergency medical technicians applied CPR for nearly 20 minutes before restarting his heart. But the damage was done. Payne died at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend two days later. 

The Lane County Medical Examiner ruled the cause of death as a lack of oxygen to his brain after he suffered a cardiac arrest “during restraint by law enforcement.” 

A death tied to police restraint could have triggered a thorough, independent investigation into actions of EPD officers and Lane County sheriff’s deputies. 

But the county medical examiner, Dr. Daniel Davis, prevented that from happening when he ruled on the manner of death.

After ruling police restraint was a cause contributing to Payne’s death, Davis made a separate ruling as to the manner of death. In death investigations, “manner of death” refers to the events that brought on the cause of death. In all cases, there are a limited number of possibilities for the manner of death: natural causes, accident, suicide, homicide or undetermined.

Davis listed Payne’s manner of death as “undetermined.” An independent forensic expert and a cardiologist contacted by EW say that they question Davis’ finding.

See related: What does ‘Undetermined; Mean?

Both experts say a “homicide” finding would have been consistent with Davis’ own conclusions that police restraint of Payne helped cause his death. A finding of “homicide” as a manner of death wouldn’t mean a crime had been committed. But the finding would have triggered an independent criminal investigation. 

Davis’ ruling allowed EPD and the Lane County sheriff’s office to avoid such an investigation. Davis declined to answer questions for this story.

Despite the lack of an outside investigation, Lane County District Attorney Patricia Perlow tells EW she does not believe officers broke any laws in dealing with Payne. She believes the sheriff’s deputies used reasonable restraint on Payne, and that they summoned medical help as soon as it was clear Payne had stopped breathing.

Perlow does say Payne should not have been taken to jail that night by the EPD officers. 

“He should have been transported to the hospital given his condition,” Perlow tells EW. 

EW asked Perlow if she had shared her opinion with Eugene Police. “I don’t make policy or enforce policy for any of the law enforcement agencies in Lane County,” she said.

EPD Chief Chris Skinner declined to answer EW’s questions about the death of Landon Payne or the actions of his officers in arresting Payne.

Payne’s death came two months before police in Minneapolis killed George Floyd in May 2020 and set off nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality. 

Landon Payne was white, but the scrutiny of deaths in police custody has also focused on the treatment of the mentally ill and the need for greater accountability when suspects die in police custody.

Floyd’s death happened in public view. Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck as Floyd lay face down in the street, with witnesses looking on and iPhone video recording the scene. The visibility has forced police to be held accountable, including criminal charges against officers and a murder conviction for Chauvin.

Meanwhile, Payne’s death has been whispered about among Lane County law-enforcement officials, but the case has not been revealed publicly until now. 

EPD stamped reports about Payne’s death “confidential.” A Marion County judge handling Payne’s civil child-support case followed EPD’s direction and sealed the reports in a court file. 

EW and the Catalyst Journalism Project have pieced together this story using documents and video obtained under Oregon public records law. The documents include police reports, Payne’s autopsy report and video of up to eight Lane County deputies restraining Payne at the county jail. The video also shows a frantic 19-minute effort to revive him. 

The EW/Catalyst investigation also found that the Eugene police gave Payne’s widow, Angie, false information about what happened to her husband.

The night Payne was arrested, an EPD officer told Angie Payne only that her husband had collapsed while being booked into the jail. The officer and other EPD officials never told her that deputies intentionally took Payne to the ground or that Payne stopped breathing while being restrained.

Records show that EPD officers were aware they had given Angie Payne incomplete information, but they never corrected the record. Angie Payne says she learned the details only after EW shared with her its findings about Payne’s death.

“I feel lied to,” Angie Payne says. “I was missing puzzle pieces from what happened that night.”

“At the same time,” she adds, “intuitively, I felt like there’s something missing that I don’t know.”

Enlarge

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Landon Payne

A rolling stone

Landon Jay Payne spent his childhood following his parents to Georgia, New York, Texas and Ontario, Canada, before returning to Oregon, where he’d been born in 1983. His parents worked in the winery business, but his father struggled with substance abuse. Payne struggled in school, too fidgety to focus in class. 

He started drinking and smoking weed in high school, and years of addiction followed along with long stretches of sobriety and battles with depression. After taking classes at Chemeketa Community College, he worked as a landscaper, rarely holding jobs for long. He had two children and struggled to make child-support payments. “Everything he tried, the wheels fell off,” his sister, Monica Payne, tells EW. “And it’s not that he didn’t try, I think he just didn’t fit the mold.”

Payne loved few things more than electronic music — performing club and occasional festival shows professionally in Oregon until his early 30s. His shyness deterred him from committing to music as a career, but he carried it on as a hobby. Years later, his wife would hear him in his room editing music on a computer. “It was like him in his natural habitat,” she says. 

But early on, Payne got into trouble with the law. In 2002, when he was 19, police in Salem arrested Payne for dealing marijuana. He received a five-year probation sentence, but was later sentenced to six months in the Marion County Jail for violating probation after he was charged in 2007 with selling mushrooms and LSD, and as a felon in possession of a firearm. (Police found an antique handgun in his home, according to his sister.) Payne served two years of a three and half year sentence before being released from Powder River Correctional Facility in Baker City. 

“I made some very negative choices in my life. I’m not going down that direction any longer,” Payne told the judge at a hearing in 2009. “It was obviously necessary for this to occur in my life for me to make the changes that were necessary, because the route that I was going was not beneficial to anyone.”

Landon and Angie Payne married in 2013 and lived with her two children in north Eugene. He worked occasionally as a landscaper and in computer repair but still struggled to make his child-support payments — the state of Oregon filed two civil cases against him to collect. In 2014 the Eugene police arrested Payne for driving under the influence, driving while using a cell phone and for having an open container, according to Eugene Municipal Court records. The case was dismissed in 2016 after he completed a diversion program.

Angie Payne said her husband still fought off depression and a desire to isolate himself. 

On the night of Jan. 21, 2017, Angie Payne came home to find Landon paranoid and delusional. He said he had smoked meth and believed people were out to get him. He either fell or jumped from a second floor window and ran off. Angie called police, told them Payne was having “some sort of mental crisis,” and asked for help in finding him. 

Just more than an hour later, shortly before 12:30 am, officers found Payne wandering in the median of Delta Highway. Payne was disoriented and wearing dark clothes. Officers feared Payne might step into traffic, so they detained him on a non-criminal mental hold and took him to PeaceHealth’s University District Hospital. It’s not known what treatment Payne received while he was there. 

Angie Payne says her husband stayed clean after that incident. But he had something hanging over his head — an unresolved contempt case against him for unpaid child-support. 

Also in 2017, Payne had failed to show for a court hearing over the debt. A Marion County judge found him in contempt of court and issued a warrant for his arrest. 

The warrant hung over him as he tried again to work. In 2019 Payne took a job as a welder and as a sawyer — sawing wood — at Carry-On Trailers in Coburg until he slashed his right hand on the job. Angie Payne said Landon remained optimistic and always talked about finding a way to become a better person.

“Angie,” Payne told her at the start of 2020, “this will be my year.”

Calling for help

Landon Payne died after a series of turning points and decisions made by law enforcement. But the events of March 27, 2020, began after Payne had smoked meth with a friend. He had left his house the day before. When he returned on the 27th, Payne admitted to Angie that he’d smoked meth. Angie said he got on his knees. “This was the stupidest thing I could’ve done,” he told Angie, telling her he feared he would die. “I have so much to do still here.” 

Payne took a long walk, hoping to steady himself. But he returned and his anxiety turned into panic. He told  Angie he feared that family members were trying to kill him. “Help, help,” he murmured, but soon he was screaming. 

At around 9:30 pm, Angie Payne says, Landon went outside, hoping more fresh air would help. It’s then, she recalled, that Landon “started freaking out.”

“He’s just panicking, fearful for his life,” she recalled. 

Angie could see neighbors watching and feared they would call the police. So she called the police to explain what was happening. She was right; a neighbor had called 911 minutes earlier and two more also reported Landon to the police. An EPD dispatcher relayed one of the calls, “Male across the street yelling that someone is trying to murder him.”

The police arrive, and things get worse

The EPD officers dispatched to the Payne house heard two key pieces of information over their radios. First, they were told that EPD had previously taken Payne for mental hold, signaling the police knew Payne had a history of mental-health issues. Second, they learned about the Marion County warrant issued for Payne three years earlier over unpaid child support.

The first EPD officer to arrive was Jairo Solorio, whose decisions and actions that night were key in the events that followed. Solorio had four years’ experience as an officer in Billings, Montana, before joining the Eugene police nine months before Payne’s arrest.

EPD requires its officers to take a 40-hour crisis intervention team training (CIT) to prepare them for dealing with people experiencing a mental-health crisis. According to EPD policies, “Officers are expected to use their CIT training when responding to incidents involving persons in crisis due to a known or perceived mental illness.”

Solorio had not received the mandatory training, according to records with the state Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. Neither had another who showed up at Payne’s house, Officer Andrew Roberts. A third officer who also arrived, Jacob Thomas, an EPD officer since 2013, was the only officer present who had even partly completed the mandatory training, state records show.

Solorio and Thomas spoke to Landon and Angie Payne, who told the officers Landon had returned home acting erratic and he had had a similar incident several years ago.

Angie Payne remembers that Solorio and Thomas talked calmly to Landon, asking him if he was a danger to himself or others. Landon said, “No.” 

In his report, Thomas later described Landon as “animated in his movements and seemed very paranoid, which was consistent with methamphetamine use.” Solorio later wrote in his report that Landon Payne was “aggressive with our interaction” and that he was “sweating and very confrontational.” Solorio quoted Payne as saying, “If I remain here, I’m going to be killed.”

Angie Payne’s memories of what happened differ in important ways to what Solorio and Thomas later reported. “[Landon] started to sober up and was making some good suggestions and reasoning with the officers,” she told EW. 

She later gave a similar account to an EPD investigator soon after Landon’s death. “For a bit, he almost like, was clear headed,” Angie Payne told the investigator. “He was getting really delusional. And, when they came, he started to kind of, you know, reason with them.”

There’s one way to determine precisely what happened on the Paynes’ porch that night — at least one of the officers was wearing a body camera. Under Oregon public records law, EW has requested a copy of the body camera video. EPD officials have refused to release it. EW is appealing the denial, arguing the public interest outweighs the EPD’s efforts to keep the video secret.

Angie Payne said she and Landon asked police to call CAHOOTS, Lane County’s mobile crisis intervention service run by White Bird Clinic, a nonprofit that provides medical assistance, substance treatment, counseling and other support services.

The CAHOOTS van arrived at 10:10 pm — 10 minutes after being dispatched to the house. The CAHOOTS team members, Henry Cakebread and Tatanka Maker, spoke to Landon and Angie and told them there was nothing they could do — their resources were limited due to COVID-19, and White Bird Clinic was closed for the time being. (CAHOOTS staff declined to be interviewed for this story.) 

Angie Payne tells EW that the officers then explained to her that there was nothing they could do for Landon. Angie Payne said the officers also told her they had no reason to arrest Landon.

Angie Payne provided a consistent account to an EPD investigator after Landon’s death. As an EPD investigative report put it: “She said the police officers also told her they had no reason to detain Payne because he had not committed a crime.”

But the officers hadn’t told Angie the truth. 

Turning point No. 1: 

EPD officers make an unnecessary arrest

 The EPD officers knew the outstanding warrant from Marion County gave them a reason to arrest Payne.  

Police officers are not required to arrest someone simply because that person has an outstanding warrant. In fact, EPD policies give officers the option not to make an arrest. “While this department recognizes the statutory power of peace officers to make arrests throughout the state, officers are encouraged to use sound discretion in the enforcement of the law,” EPD’s arrest policy reads.

Payne’s mental health required sound discretion by officers. 

According to EPD policies, Payne was exhibiting signs of being in a mental-health crisis, including delusions, “extreme fright,” and “strong and unrelenting fear of persons, places, or things.”

In those cases, the policy says, EPD officers can offer to assist the person. If the person poses a risk to himself or others and is in need of immediate care, the police could place him on a mental-health hold. 

Officers can also decide to put off arresting a person experiencing a mental-health crisis until another time. “Delaying custody,” the EPD policy says, “is a tactic that can be used if the officer determines that taking the person into custody under the present circumstances may result in an undue safety risk to the person, the public, and/or officers.”

Records show the officers had plenty of reason to delay in arresting Payne. 

At no point did any officer report that they believed Landon had committed any crime. 

At no point did any of the officers report that Landon posed a threat to anyone or to himself. The officers recorded plenty of evidence of Payne’s mental instability, but nowhere in their reports do the officers discuss providing Payne with assistance to help him through this crisis.

There was another reason not to arrest Landon Payne: COVID-19.

The COVID pandemic had been declared by the World Health Organization two weeks earlier, and Oregon had gone into shutdown on March 12. The Lane County Jail was trying to limit the inmate population. 

The EPD officers had another choice: Before arresting Payne, they could have taken the time to find out whether it was even necessary to arrest Payne over the warrant. 

The Marion County Jail — where Payne would have eventually been sent — faced the same worries about COVID as Lane County. Had the EPD officers inquired, they would have learned Marion County didn’t want Payne held on the warrant. That would have eliminated any reason to arrest him.

Solorio and the other officers didn’t do that. Instead they ignored all the warning signs and moved in to arrest Landon Payne.

Tragedy followed.

Turning point No. 2: 

The unnecessary arrest deepens Payne’s crisis

Solorio and Roberts stepped behind Payne, and Solorio told him to put his hands behind his back. According to his police report, Solorio didn’t wait for Payne to comply and instead simultaneously grabbed Payne’s arm and pulled back on it. Payne pulled his arm free and struggled with Solorio and Roberts. Solorio and Roberts took Payne to the ground.

Angie Payne had been talking with CAHOOTS staff when she heard yelling and saw the officers tackle Landon. “They threw him down and started to restrain him,” she says. 

The third officer, Thomas, fired a Taser. “That’s when everything went wrong,” Angie later told an EPD investigator. The Taser shot its prong attached to wires into Payne’s backside, but Payne twisted and tangled the wires. Thomas then pressed the Taser against Payne’s leg and fired once before firing again three times against his lower back. According to police reports, Payne told the officers, “Okay. I’m done, I’m done.”

In an interview with EW, Jason Renaud, co-founder of the Mental Health Association of Portland, raised questions about how the officers arrested Payne. Renaud said that surprising a person who is mentally ill and high on meth is “completely contradictory to every kind of training I’ve ever heard about.”

The best practice, he said, is to move slowly and quietly to de-escalate. “Not to increasingly agitate the situation by assaulting the person. He’s high on meth. Why are you Tasing him? Where’s the crime?”

The EPD officers later charged Payne with resisting arrest.

Renaud also said the presence of police, even without use of force, can trigger a negative reaction from someone in Payne’s mental state. “People who are experiencing acute drug toxicity, or acute mental illness, they don’t have the tools to de-escalate the police,” Renaud says. “So when the police escalate, the individual escalates, the police escalate right back.” 

Officers put Payne in a patrol car. Landon had been calming down only moments before. Now he was delusional, screaming and thrashing. An officer offered him water. Payne refused, accusing the officers of trying to poison him. Angie Payne later told an EPD investigator Landon was screaming and “looked like he was about to have a heart attack.”

An officer told her medics were on their way.

Turning Point No. 3: 

Payne is denied medical help

But the medics weren’t coming to help Landon. The officers wanted to know if they could take Landon Payne to jail.

The emergency medical technicians arrived around 10:40 pm and tried to examine Payne. Officers Solorio, Roberts and Thomas all reported that the EMTs who arrived “cleared” Payne for jail. 

That’s true. But their reports all left out an important fact: the EMTs actually had no real idea about Payne’s condition. The full story appears in the medical examiner’s files, which includes information obtained from the EMTs on the scene that night. The EMTs had tried to get Payne’s pulse and blood pressure, but he wouldn’t hold still for them. Angie Payne says she asked officers why they didn’t take Landon to a hospital. She never got an answer.

No one had any idea of Payne’s condition — especially his heart — when officers drove him to jail.

Turning Point No. 4: 

EPD ignores pleas from the jail to release Payne

The EPD patrol car carrying Payne arrived at the Lane County jail at 11:01 pm, pulling into the sally port. The jail had already rounded up several deputies after EPD had reported they were bringing in a “combative” suspect. 

Lane County Jail Captain Clint Riley tells EW that COVID-19 pandemic had the jail staff on high alert. 

EPD brought in Payne the first night that started moving COVID screenings to the sally port — a secure, controlled garage just outside the booking area — rather than inside the jail building. Riley said there was a nurse present 24/7 to ensure deputies were “making good decisions to bring people in here.” 

But Riley says EPD should have taken Payne to a hospital, not to the jail.  

“We as a law enforcement community talk about we’d much rather have an incident like this happen at the ER than here,” Riley tells EW. “We don’t want to be the medical referee all the time.”

Two video cameras — one worn by a deputy, the other mounted on a wall of the sally port — captured what happened next. 

Solorio briefed the jail deputies on his dealings with Payne, with voice captured by the cameras. “Used a Taser deployment, resisting and a warrant.” Solorio said. “He’s been just screaming and yelling the entire time. I don’t know if he’s gonna comply.” Solorio said nothing about Payne’s past mental issues, that Payne showed signs of being in a mental health crisis when officers arrived, or about Angie Payne’s concerns that Landon needed medical attention.

A deputy leaned into the patrol car and tried to ask Payne questions. The body camera captured the exchange. Are you injured? Are you suicidal? Payne screamed in response to each question. “He’s not even acknowledging any of the questions,” Deputy Michael Bauerlen told other deputies gathered around the patrol car. 

After that, Sgt. Lance Jester of the sheriff’s office delivered some pivotal news to EPD Officer Solorio: Marion County, the source of the original warrant, didn’t want Payne held on the contempt warrant. The original excuse police used to arrest Payne had vanished.

Jester’s explanation didn’t sway Solorio. He insisted Lane County deputies jail Payne for resisting arrest.

In a report, Jester described the conversation with Solorio this way. “Due to the warrant being cleared prior I asked if they wanted to [cite and release] on the resisting charge. The arresting officer declined saying that they would just have to deal with him again.”

The body cam video captured this moment as Solorio explains why he doesn’t want to let Payne go. 

“Sorry to do this to you guys,” Solorio told the deputies. “At the end of the day, we’re gonna get a call back, and we’re gonna have to do kind of the same thing again.” 

“All right, we’ll take him in,” a deputy said. “He may end up back out anyways. I mean it’s just the way it is right now.”

“We didn’t have another option, either,” Solorio said.

The exchange is telling. Solorio wanted the jail to deal with Payne, even if the jail would simply release Payne anyway. But Payne would no longer be Solorio’s problem.

It was now clear no one wanted to take responsibility for Landon Payne.

Turning Point No. 5: 

Sheriff’s deputies restrain Landon Payne

Riley says Lane County Sheriff’s deputies followed proper procedures in handling Payne. The videos show sheriff’s deputies working on a plan to remove the handcuffed Payne safely from the patrol car, place him face down on the concrete and check him for COVID symptoms.

Renaud of the Mental Health Association of Portland reviewed videos of the incident at EW’s request. 

The safest thing for Payne, Renaud says, would have been to take him to a hospital, or to simply let him sit in the patrol car until he settled down. Forcibly removing him, he says, was the most dangerous option for Payne. 

“Moving him at this point is only going to exacerbate his condition,” Renaud says. “But often with police, they really feel like they need to move things along. They need to go back out on the street, they need to get the car back. They need to get him in jail. They’ve got people standing around. And so they proceed into the problem.”

The deputies pulled Payne out of the patrol car as one aimed a Taser. Payne’s screams grew louder as he emerged from the car. Seven deputies surrounded him. Payne was not resisting, but he was not cooperating, either. 

Slowly, the deputies tipped Payne over and eased him to the ground — first on his side, then on his stomach, his hands cuffed behind him. A deputy shackled his legs.

Renaud, in reviewing the video, says the deputies at this point took proper steps: They had plenty of people to handle Payne, and one deputy held Payne’s head to make sure Payne didn’t smack it on the ground. “Protecting his head, good,” Renaud says.

However, Renaud said the combination of placing Payne face down while he was panicked created a risk. “OK, now he’s going to start to not be able to breathe,” Renaud said as he reviewed the video, “because his heart is going so hard.”

 An EPD report later noted that at least one sheriff’s deputy can be seen on video placing his knees on Payne’s back. That’s a method of restraint that can disrupt or stop the person’s breathing. 

The video shows one deputy placing his left knee on Payne’s upper right back — the deputy then extended his right leg behind him to exert more leverage and pressure.

Six seconds later, Payne stopped howling. He let out rapid grunts with every breath. Payne tried to lift his head. A deputy pushed his head back down on the concrete.

“Hey,” the deputy told him. “Calm down.”

“I can’t breathe,” Payne replied.

It’s not clear how many of the deputies grouped around him heard him say, “I can’t breathe.” But the video shows the deputy with his knee pressed into Payne’s upper right back immediately eased off.

Right after Payne said “I can’t breathe,” a deputy asked Payne, “Did you take any drugs or anything?”

Another told him, “Just take deep breaths.”

Fifteen seconds after Payne said “I can’t breathe,” another deputy asked, “Landon. Landon. What drugs did you do today?”

Payne grunted with every breath. His body jerked a few times, but with less force than before. 

“We gotta get you through this process, man,” a deputy told him “You gotta relax.”

One deputy noticed that another still had a knee pressed down on Payne’s back.

“Could you get your knee down to his arm like this? That way you could get off of his back.” The other deputy replied, “I got my knee on his arm.”

A deputy kept shouting questions at Payne about what drugs he had taken. Another tried to calm him. 

“Relax, man,” he said. “Let’s get through this.”

“He’s not,” another deputy replied.

Then Payne stopped moving. A few of the deputies later said they assumed Payne had finally agreed to cooperate. But one deputy noticed something was wrong.

“Did he just pass out?” he asked. “Is he breathing?”

Two minutes had elapsed since deputies put Payne face down on the concrete. The deputies turned him on his right side and then his back. They couldn’t find a pulse. His face and lips turned blue.

Deputies started CPR, trading off for the next nine minutes until an ambulance arrived and EMTs pumped Payne’s chest for another nine minutes. 

Sheriff’s Sgt. Jester tried one more time to convince EPD Officer Solorio to change his mind about booking Payne into jail. As Jester wrote in a report, “I asked EPD if they would [cite in lieu of custody] now due to the fact that Payne was going to the hospital and they would not have to deal with him again tonight.”

The EMTs finally picked up a slight pulse and took Payne to RiverBend, arriving at 11:45 pm.

In all, 56 minutes had elapsed since EPD officers had driven Landon Payne away from his house. 

Angie Payne had heard nothing about Landon since then. At 12:15 am, she received a call from an EPD officer who told her Landon had collapsed while being booked into the Lane County Jail. Landon had been given CPR and was now in the ICU unit at Riverbend. 

The last part was true. It was true, Landon had suffered cardiac arrest, received CPR and was in the hospital.

But the key part of that account — that Landon had simply collapsed — was a lie. 

Because he’d never been booked into jail, Payne was officially still in the custody of EPD Officer Jairo Solorio, who followed the EMTs to RiverBend. “Due to his condition, I was unable to lodge Landon at the jail,” Solorio later wrote in his report. “Landon was treated for any injury or medical condition and was in stable condition after I served his citations.”

But Solorio’s report was wrong: Payne wasn’t stable — he was progressing to  brain death, records show. 

At the hospital, Solorio did what he refused to do before: He released Payne from custody. In doing so, Solorio wrote a ticket for resisting arrest and delivered it to Payne, who was now unconscious and dying.

Tucked away

“My trust is broken,” Monica Payne says after EW shared details about what happened to Landon on March 27, 2020. “I hate that my family member had to go through that when there’s some expectation of safety and care. And that’s not what it sounds like actually happened.”

“It’s scary that that happened, and nobody would have ever known,” she says.

Angie Payne also wonders why no one ever gave her the full story. She hopes her husband’s death gives rise to changes in the system to prevent other people from enduring what her husband experienced.
“They should’ve sent him to the hospital where he needed to be,” she says. “They needed to analyze the mental and physical state he was in. They were so withdrawn from what was really happening to him at that moment,” she says. “I don’t think he was even able to reason or talk or answer anything. He just needed help, and I think it’s tragic that they denied him that.”

This story was developed as part of the Catalyst Journalism Project at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Catalyst brings together investigative reporting and solutions journalism to spark action and response to Oregon’s most perplexing issues. To learn more visit Journalism.UOregon.edu/Catalyst or follow the project on Twitter @UO_catalyst.