Former Lewis County Jail inmate paid $300,000 for pepper spray abuse incident

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 9:46 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Lewis County paid a former inmate $300,000 not to sue the county, its jail or any of its employees for mistreatment he suffered while incarcerated.

The then-24-year-old Centralia man was housed at the facility in January of last year, described as a person with mental health issues who was being held in the medical observation area.

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Wellington M. Waggener

An entire three-ounce can of pepper spray was discharged into his cell to get him to give back keys he’d grabbed off a guard through the cuff port, and then he was left to suffer for more than five hours without being given any kind of relief – such as water or decontamination.

There was no running water in the cell at the time, having been shut off the day before due to his attempt to flood the cell.

Then-Sheriff Steve Mansfield called the incident disgusting and embarrassing for the sheriff’s office, after he fired the corrections sergeant he held responsible for what happened.

Undersheriff Wes Rethwill today said the settlement was handled not by the sheriff’s office, but by the Lewis County risk manager.

“Obviously this is an incident that took place involving an employee, that employee is no longer here,” Rethwill said. “The sheriff at the time took appropriate action.”

The sheriff’s office operates the jail. Mansfield was replaced by newly elected Sheriff Rob Snaza in January. Rethwill is new to office as well.

Lewis County RIsk Manager Paulette Young said a lawyer representing the county and a lawyer representing the inmate reached an agreement with the help of a mediator.

“We thought that would be the best way to settle the claim without going to a lawsuit,” Young said. “If Mr. Waggener  had sued us, it would be a civil rights violation in federal court.”

The check was written on June 2, and delivered to the former inmate’s attorney, she said.

Wellington M. Waggener was in the jail because he’d been arrested by Centralia police after he returned to a downtown business he’d been barred from, and then allegedly fought with officers who attempted to detain him.

Now 26 years old, Waggener is being held once again at the Lewis County Jail.  The Centralia man was booked on Friday night in connection with an incident a local motel for which he has been charged with a felony.

Then yesterday morning, he allegedly threatened to kill two jail guards.

He was charged today in Lewis County Superior Court with two counts of felony harassment.

The 6-foot 9-inch tall former Centralia College basketball player was handcuffed and shackled at his waist and ankles as many defendants often are.

As his bail hearing came to a close he threw himself over the half wall that separates the public seating area from the front portion of the courtroom.

The four corrections officers already present were on him fairly quickly.

“Oops, I slipped,” Waggener said, as he lay partially on the first bench, with his lower half of his body still on the proper side of the wall.

Trena Krause, who was seated in the courtroom waiting for another matter, heard someone holler, get back, and jumped and walked over the benches to get to the rear of the room.

“The way he was acing, I completely figured he was on drugs, or mental,” Krause said. “I think he was just making an as* out of himself.”

Waggener stayed limp as the guards dragged him off the bench and out of the courtroom, back down to the jail.

Temporary defense attorney Joely O’Rourke had been about to tell the judge Waggener would qualify for a court appointed attorney, when Judge Richard Brosey suggested she inquire about his assets, in particular if he’d received a settlement to the tune of $300,000 from the county.

Centralia attorney Don Blair was appointed already for his other case.

Judge Brosey said the matter could be discussed further tomorrow, at Waggener’s arraignment.

The $300,000 check was paid by Washington County’s Risk Pool, Lewis County’s insurer.

It was made out to the law firm representing him, in trust for Waggener.

Young said today Waggener never filed a lawsuit or a tort claim, regarding his treatment at the jail last year.

The family’s attorney made a public disclosure request for the documents about the incident, she said.

“We knew where that was going,” she said. “We had an attorney, we went to mediation.”

Lawyers on both sides mutually reached out to each other, she said.

The agreement, signed May 22, means Waggener would release all claims against the county and it’s employees, among those named, Jail Chief Kevin Hanson and former Corrections Sgt. Trevor S. Smith.
•••

For background, read:

• “Sheriff’s Office: Fired corrections officer allowed inmates to suffer” from Friday July 18, 2014, here

• “Centralia man jailed after woman tells of waking up to stranger in her motel room bed” from Tuesday July 14, 2015, here

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Corrections officers grab Wellington M. Waggener as he lay on the first bench behind the defendant’s table in Lewis County Superior Court today.

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Waggener remains limp as corrections officers move him out of the public seating area of the courtroom.

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Waggener is dragged out of Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey’s courtroom this afternoon.

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25 Responses to “Former Lewis County Jail inmate paid $300,000 for pepper spray abuse incident”

  1. diane says:

    Apparently he’s a lot smarter than the lewis county officials…and laughing at them all the way to the bank!

  2. adminsharyn says:

    Sleeping Giant, he isn’t charged with rape, he wasn’t charged with rape … ever … and based on the information from prosecutors in their affidavit of probable cause, there does not appear to have been a rape at the motel that night … remember police ARREST people for some offense, and then prosecutors (and a judge) review it before prosecutors can CHARGE people with an offense … and just seeing the word “rape” on the jail’s online roster, of course can certainly be misleading …

  3. The Sleeping Giant says:

    This concerns me Sharyn. The fact that hes charged with rape and now the charges have been lowered. I plan on going to the motel and looking to see if they have cameras. The recording could prove his whereabouts during the time of the alleged rape

  4. adminsharyn says:

    what you see on the online jail roster, Sleeping Giant, is a combination of … sometimes simply the original thing police ARRESTED a person for, and not the thing prosecutors actually CHARGED them with … as well as the abbreviations you see are for categories that sometimes/often don’t translate exactly with whatever specific offense is involved … so, in short, he is not being held on a rape charge — sharyn decker

  5. The Sleeping Giant says:

    Just checked the jail roster he is being held on rape charges. If he just touched her how is this Rape. Does this Travel lodge motel even have cameras? The story smells like fish.

  6. Extenuating Circumstances says:

    Perhaps, he was just working towards extra credit for his criminal justice, associates degree?

  7. XDs says:

    Very good point Wendy, her & her boyfriend got a little buzzed, wanted a threesome, took him back to the motel, boyfriend freaked out as she enjoyed Waggener more and cried wolf to save face.

  8. Daniel says:

    As well FOIA requests are handled by the department secretary who looks up the report number, burns it to a disk, and gives it to the person. Very quick, very easy.

  9. Daniel says:

    Free Air:

    Many small departments handle it just fine. The cameras are $79 a piece for decent ones and the storage for the footage is $12 a month per officer. Each officer when they finish their report attaches the video to it and assigns it the report number in the storage system. No additional employees and minimal cost.

  10. Wendy Gutierrez says:

    it does not say he raped he it just says she found him in her bed, it might be that they got drunk together and went to bed woke up and she forgot that she took him home with her the night before

  11. The Sleeping Giant says:

    Free Air this is no excuse for police accountability. There can be software developed to handle this issue. If we can put a man on the moon we surely can handle filing videos and recover them upon request. Tacoma PD has dash Cameras and so does the state patrol. Where is all the money going from impounded cars, drug money, traffic tickets, and property taxes. Lets not say it all goes to schools because thats what the lottery and the marijuana money go to. Public servants are out of control with the money we as tax payers provide them. Just look at Centralia compared to Chehalis there public pool is up and running yet our pool sits dormant. Something is wrong with the way our city is operated. The city of Centralia left the sand bags lying all over the streets during the last flood and they were provided Fema money to clean it up. It took a citizen getting arrested and filming the sand bags before they were cleaned up. Also the Centralia City Hall used to runs their outside lights during the day. That was changed after a citizen complained about it. Im only one person and i made all of those changes my self. I also tried to clean up tower avenue over a period of ten days and ended up having a gun pointed at me and was choked in had cuffs by CPD for filming them. I have given up on trying to ever help this community due to the bad seeds at the police department. Theres alot of things we as a community could do to make it better here but the people in power want it their way and when they see a good deed they take it as a threat. Theres no accountability in our city leaders or their employees at any level. I would like to do alot of thing here in Centralia but when you get a gun pointed at you for picking up garbage by a public servant I now have second thoughts about my safety. So I have went back to work as a contractor so i no longer have to look over my shoulder. Police corruption makes me sick. I have hung up my hat maybe you can pick up where i left off. Until they have body cameras the police are just criminals in clown with rubber badges. Not all police are bad but when you protect the bad ones your just another gang member. Enjoy your Fluoride Centralia. Thyroid Cancer is Trendy.

  12. Free Air says:

    Daniel says:
    Thursday, July 16, 2015 at 2:19 pm
    Body cameras are cheap. However, they do not tell the whole story and sometimes they skew the story.

    They are not cheap at all!
    You’re forgetting all the thousands of hours of tape time that has to be organized, stored, reviewed, copied for anyone looking for entertainment or hoping to find dirt. That takes paid personal and lots of data storage equipment. Seattle may have the cash for such items, but not the County and the small towns.

  13. The Sleeping Giant says:

    Hopefully this guy does not end up dead in police custody, he needs to be held at another jail. Another thing what happened to the corrections officer that pepper sprayed him, no charges filed against him yet the county pays 300,000 of the tax payers money. Im sure the officer is working in another position of power somewhere else. Whats really going on over there at that jail behind closed doors. I know of another person that was beaten and dragged through the halls. When he made a complaint they said their recording system malfunctioned. Where are all you pig lickers that always have nothing but good things to say about the cops?. Come on Troy your always first to lick the boot. Enjoy the Fluoride it for the kids…

  14. T. Orr says:

    Centralia police using snitches to lie against people for revenge???

    Like that’s never happened before!

    I’m surprised Waggoner didn’t just ‘disappear’.

  15. Daniel says:

    Body cameras are cheap. However, they do not tell the whole story and sometimes they skew the story.

  16. GuiltyBystander says:

    It depends. I’d say whatever education Waggener got his first time at Centralia College was wasted.

  17. Exceptionally normal says:

    As I understand it, Centralia College has an excellent curriculum, maintaining impeccable academic standards, for those aspiring to earn an associate degree in criminal justice. I’m sure it’s money well spent.

  18. Bill S says:

    When this case falls apart Centralia may end up paying this guy a lot more than Lewis County did.

  19. The Sleeping Giant says:

    This case needs to be tried in another county. They are pissed about the money they had to pay out. Theres no way he can get a fair trial here. Of course the CPD knows who he is. This is police revenge. The so called victim could be a CPD jail house snitch working with the cops to set him up for revenge… I wouldnt doubt he might end up dead in their custody.

  20. The Sleeping Giant says:

    Where are all you pig licking trolls now? This money could of funded the whole department with body cameras and dash cameras. Instead the tax payers just took care of the bill. Lets not ever forget Mansfield was investigated for harboring a runaway.. In the future police uniforms will be nothing more than rags. Enjoy your daily dose of Fluoride. Skull and bones keep your body healthy.

  21. Bill S says:

    This is starting to become a pretty interesting story. The public would probably never know about this secret $300k payoff by Lewis County if not for Sharyn being in the courtroom and hearing it from the judge. Quite a scoop. I wonder how much else the county pays out without the public ever knowing. I know Mansfield was set up in a plum county job after coronating his successor Rob Snaza.

    So Wellington has done well by provoking his jailers – that’s probably why he spit on the one the other day.

    The Centralia cops probably have a hard time with this guy walking around free and easy with $300k (less the lawyers fees) of county money in his pocket after he kicked the poop out of a couple of them being arrested. I guess that, if it wasn’t for Ferguson, they would have just shot him.

    I see where he tried to plead insanity to the last charge before this. Crazy like a fox – I guess that worked also.

    As far as the latest charge goes, I don’t know what to think. Perhaps Wellington just stumbled across and open door at the Travelodge with a sleeping woman inside and decided to go in and crawl into bed and fondle her and then wait around for the cops to show up.

    I’m suspicious of the boyfriend and what he was up to. Also supposedly they went there for privacy – privacy for what – and who’s idea was that. I could think of a lot of nice little resorts that you could go to for privacy and a nice getaway weekend.

    Of course, if I was a conspiracy theorist, I could think that some people wanted Wellington behind bars again and for a long time. But it could be just one of those random crimes and this guy has some mental problems and was bound to f up again.

  22. M.Morgan says:

    #thuglivesDONTmatter

  23. Daniel says:

    I doubt his victim would receive anywhere near $300,000 after he raped her but he gets pepper sprayed and gets $300,000? That makes sense…

  24. ooglymoogly says:

    This rabbit hole is getting deep…

  25. Nikki Lynn says:

    Only in Lewis county would they pay off someone to keep them quiet about the counties wrong doing. I’m not saying this guys an angel but his civil rights were violated and the idiot could have sued.

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