SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- A corrections officer recently convicted of assaulting an inmate has filed a $1 million lawsuit against the state, saying his actions quelled a potential riot and the state used the incident as a pretext to fire him.
The civil lawsuit filed by Jamin Dumas in Marion County alleges he was fired from the Oregon State Correctional Institution last year because he complained to prison managers about unsafe working conditions and racial discrimination.
Corrections Department spokeswoman Jennifer Black declined comment, saying it's agency policy not to speak about pending litigation.
The suit states Dumas likely prevented a prison riot in May 2008 when he subdued a defiant inmate who was shouting racial slurs at Dumas, who is Black, and Black inmates. It says Dumas followed proper procedures when he blocked a punch thrown by the inmate, then put the prisoner into a "full nelson" hold and forced him to sit at a desk until a supervising officer arrived.
Dumas, who had worked for the Department of Corrections for 19 years, was placed on leave during a state police investigation of the incident. He received a letter March 9, 2009, notifying him that he was being fired. About the same time, prosecutors charged him with official misconduct and assault.
Marion County Judge Albin Norblad found Dumas guilty of both charges. At a sentencing hearing in January, Norblad said he was convinced that Dumas assaulted the prisoner, breaking his collarbone, the Statesman Journal newspaper reported Friday.
Norblad sentenced Dumas to two years probation.
The civil suit says Norblad "relied upon the testimony of the inmate in concluding that plaintiff had lost his temper at being called 'nigger' and attacked the inmate."
The suit says Dumas had gone to management many times about the "racially hostile working environment" at the 890-inmate medium-security prison in Salem, including two weeks before the incident that prompted his dismissal.
Dumas, according to the suit, was 60 at the time of his firing and has suffered severe mental and emotional distress.
"The action of the DOC in terminating plaintiff, taking away his ability to support his family, in an economic climate which provides limited employment opportunities to a man of plaintiff's age, is especially heinous," the suit says.