Video from a jail camera opens at 5:25 p.m. June 29 with corrections officers being pushed out of a holding cell by a shirtless man in orange jail pants.
As staff members at the Chelan County Regional Justice Center try to subdue him, the jumbled mass of officers and inmate struggle down a hallway until they are out of range of the camera.
Another camera picks them up as they come down the hall but the camera shot is from a distance and it is difficult to make out what is happening.
In reports released Tuesday by the Wenatchee Police Department, which investigated the incident that ended in the death of Jesse Avina Morales, detectives described the confrontation between a 5-foot 7-inch, 180-pound Avina Morales, 21, and corrections officers. Initially, three male and two female officers struggled with Avina Morales. At various times during the struggle, nine corrections officers were involved.
According to corrections officer Michael Yonko, “Morales picked up his 260-pounds like he was nothing.”
Another officer, Jason Neiman, stated that “at one point it looked like seven deputies were on top of a bucking bronco.”
And another officer, Robin Bloch, said Avina Morales “was very strong and that during the course of his career he had never seen anyone with that type of strength.”
A report by Detective B.D. Chance states that “several deputies expressed they had never been involved in or witnessed anything like the strength exhibited by Morales during this altercation. This group of corrections officers is highly experienced, ranging from nine to 29-plus years of experience in corrections.”
Chance also states that no force above Level I techniques were reportedly used. Level 1 techniques consist of control holds only, and do not involve any kind of hand, elbow or knee strikes. Tasers and spray also fall within Level 1 techniques, but neither of these tools were used on Morales. “Some of the deputies cited their believe that higher levels of force would have been justified, but nobody seemed to think they were necessary,” Chance said.
Corrections officer Bloch reported that he “did a leg sweep on Morales and that Morales went down onto his back. …. Morales kept kicking his body and resisting and that the entire time he continued to talk about the lions killing him and making other comments about death.”
The report quotes Bloch as saying that corrections officers “eventually were able to roll Morales over to his stomach and get leg irons on him and eventually handcuffs…. Morales continued to yell, scream and resist during this entire period.”
Corrections staffers were able to get Morales into a restraint chair at 4:41 p.m. where, according to jail Sgt. Linda Stiner “Mr. Morales appeared to lose consciousness but still was breathing at this time. He was placed into Holding Unit 2 for monitoring. (A jail nurse) checked his vitals at that time and advised all appeared normal.”
Corrections officer Nieman, however, stated that, after Avina Morales was taken back to his cell “that people were tapping the arms of Morales but again there was no response.”
Stiner contacted the RiverCom dispatch center, asking for an ambulance, at 4:41 p.m., which was about 16 minutes after the struggle began with Avina Morales.
Nieman stated that “there was no response from Morales when they moved him from the restraint chair to the gurney.”
An ambulance crew member, Erin Adams, told detectives that while Avina Morales was sitting in the restraint chair that he “had a decreased level of consciousness and was breathing about six times per minute.”
Nieman further stated that as the ambulance crew was taking Avina Morales outside the building toward the waiting ambulance that “he heard the male paramedic say that he had no pulse on Morales and that the female paramedic began chest compressions.”
CPR continued for 27 minutes, the report said. Avina Morales was pronounced dead at 5:26 p.m.