As other inmates go free, jail holds man accused of using Taser on cop

As other inmates go free, jail holds man accused of using Taser on cop »Play Video
Jessie Wright

EUGENE, Ore. - A man accused of using a police officer's Taser against the officer has been in jail since February 23, during which time 118 other inmates have been released due to overcrowding.

Friends and family of Jessie Wright question why he hasn't been released, too. Wright faces charges of assault on a public safety officer, unlawful use of a stun gun, resisting arrest and criminal trespass. He pleaded not guilty to all counts this week.

He had been held pending $590,000 bail but now has a release hearing on Friday. Jail records now show his bail has not been set.

The Lane County Jail routinely releases people accused of crimes who have not yet posted bail or faced trial as part of what is known as a "capacity based release."

Wright, who was arrested following his 30th birthday party, has not been released.

Police said Wright was leaving a birthday bash at a downtown bar when he "aggressively pointed his finger" in the face of an officer. When police used a Taser on Wright in an attempt to arrest him, they say he turned the Taser on the officer.

His friends who were with him have questioned the police account of what happened that night. Police won't offer any more details, citing the pending charges against Wright.

"It all comes down to a wounded officer's pride," said Anna Jackson, Wright's girlfriend. "Honestly that's why they're keeping him in.

"He wants his voice to be heard in all of this," she said of Wright. "I mean that he was wrongfully accused."

The justice system will ultimately decide the charges against Wright. But in an era when the Lane County Jail routinely releases people accused of stabbing people or hit-and-run in a stolen car without bail, Wright's friends question why he is still behind bars.

"When the jail is at capacity, the inmates deemed the least dangerous are the first to be released," said Sgt. Carrie Carver with the Lane County Sheriff's Office, which runs the jail.

The risk assessment has found 118 other inmates less dangerous than Wright since he was locked up, according to jail records.

Lane County is asking voters to approve a new tax in order to keep more offenders behind bars.