ASHLAND, ORE – The ACLU of Oregon filed a lawsuit today for the illegal arrest of actor Juan Anthony Sancho in April 2019. 

The suit was filed in the Jackson County Circuit Court against the City of Ashland, Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara, and the four police officers who illegally arrested Tony Sancho and took him to jail.

Sancho, who was an Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor, was walking home from a night out downtown when officers encountered him. After questioning Sancho, officers appear in the video to become frustrated telling Sancho to “shut up” and “you’re going to go to jail,” escalating what should have been a simple welfare check into an aggressive arrest. The nightmare continued in the jail where guards tortured him throughout the night, chaining him to a urine grate and beating him (a separate lawsuit against the county for his treatment in jail was filed earlier last year).

This litigation comes a day after the ACLU of Oregon offered the City of Ashland the opportunity to pause potential legal proceedings in order to have discussions with Mr. Sancho outside of court about how to resolve his illegal arrest. The city refused that offer on Friday morning.

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Read the lawsuit

Matthew Rowan of Collins Rowan, LLP: “The city’s decision is disappointing but not unexpected. Since the moment Ashland police approached our client walking home from a night out two years ago, they have had the opportunity to do the right thing every step of the way and they continue to choose otherwise. They have turned what could have been a simple welfare check that night into a traumatic event for Mr. Sancho and his family and now civil rights litigation.”

ACLU of Oregon cooperating attorney Christopher Lundberg: “The city and police department could have been, and still could be, collaborators for true change and accountability in Ashland. But we are happy to pursue justice with the full force of the legal system. The law is on our side: The Ashland Police Department had no legal basis to arrest Tony Sancho and send him to jail.”

Sancho is represented by Kelly Simon of ACLU of Oregon; Christopher Lundberg of Haglund Kelly, LLP; Richard Thierolf of Jacobson, Thierolf & Dickey, PC; and Matthew Rowan of Collins Rowan, LLP. Thierolf and Rowan also represent Sancho in a separate case against the county for the abuses he suffered in the Jackson County Jail following the illegal arrest by Ashland police.