Log In


Reset Password

2022 trial scheduled for actor suing Jackson County Jail

Deputies Michael Hammond and Brady Bjorkland walk away from Juan Anthony "Tony" Sancho after chaining him to a floor grate in the Jackson County Jail in 2019. Sancho filed a lawsuit surrounding his treatment at the jail. [Photo filed in U.S. District Court in Medford]

A jury trial is scheduled to commence next summer for a former Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor who is suing the county for six figures on claims that he was mistreated at the Jackson County Jail in the spring of 2019.

Juan Anthony Sancho of South Pasadena, California, who is known professionally under the stage name Tony Sancho, will face off against the county starting July 19, 2022, according to a trial management document filed last week in the lawsuit.

Magistrate Judge Mark D. Clarke will preside over the civil jury trial scheduled to last four days, according to a trial management order filed June 11.

Sancho’s civil rights lawsuit seeks damages from the county “in an amount not to exceed $706,000” surrounding his treatment at the jail the morning of April 18, 2019, in a dry holding cell sometimes known as a “drunk tank.”

Ashland police had arrested Sancho, who was intoxicated, before dawn on a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest that was never prosecuted. At the time, Sancho had a lead role in Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Mother Road.”

The lawsuit alleges that corrections deputies used excessive force when they handcuffed him to the jail’s concrete floor via a urine drain for more than two hours, that deputies delivered “unnecessary knee strikes” and kneeled on Sancho’s back in part because he more than once contorted his body to move his handcuffed arms from behind his back to his front while he was held inside the cell.

Jackson County Circuit Court records show that Ashland police had to use "three officers and two pair of handcuffs“ to detain Sancho after a drunken driving crash six months later that left his vehicle disabled in the area of Gresham and East Main streets, according to an earlier news report. Sancho later completed a diversion program for the driving under the influence of intoxicants charge.

Sancho in April filed a separate $2 million lawsuit with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon against Ashland police surrounding his April 2019 arrest.

The lawsuit alleges that Sancho “was not committing a crime, and was increasingly terrified by the officers’ escalation of force.”

The city had not yet responded to the ACLU suit as of Friday afternoon, Jackson County Circuit Court records show.

Medford lawyer Thomas Armosino filed notices of representation in May for the city of Ashland, police Chief Tighe O’Meara, Sgt. Robert Leonard and officers Ty Ridout, Scott Wenzel and Brian Geidanus, named in the ACLU lawsuit.

O’Meara has said previously that police arrested Sancho because he was too intoxicated to care for himself, because Sancho couldn’t provide his address and because Sancho resisted being taken to detox. O’Meara has also said that he asked the District Attorney’s office not to press charges on the misdemeanor resisting arrest charge.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.