MAX stabbing suspect was denied at jail for health reasons, released by police with citation days before alleged attack

Adrian Cummins, the man accused of stabbing two Black teenagers in a racist attack, should’ve been held in jail on prior charges. He was refused booking on Aug. 30.

PORTLAND, Oregon — The man accused of stabbing two Black teenage boys in a racially motivated attack at a MAX stop in Southeast Portland was released by police just days before the alleged attack, despite a judicial order to hold him in custody.

Portland police arrested Adrian Cummins on August 30, carrying out an arrest warrant connected to Cummins’ failure to appear in court on charges for “menacing” someone with a knife in July.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said that Cummins was refused booking into the jail on August 30 for medical reasons — which a MCSO spokesperson described as one of the most common reasons someone would be denied entry to jail.

A Portland Police Bureau spokesperson told KGW that Cummins’ condition was not an acute medical condition, but “something that could be communicable to other inmates if he was introduced to a closed population like the jail.”

In cases of refusal at the jail, the arresting officer has a few choices, namely:

  • Give a citation for a new court date, recognizing that the individual can’t be booked at that time (cite in-lieu of custody)
  • Take the individual to a hospital for treatment
  • Supervise the individual at the hospital before returning them to the Multnomah County Detention Center for booking
  • Request an MCSO deputy supervise the individual at the hospital
  • Temporarily hold the individual, per state law regulations

In Cummins’ case, a PPB officer elected to issue a citation in-lieu of custody, releasing him while serving him notice of a new court date.

The PPB spokesperson said the officer’s report didn’t specify if Cummins was offered medical transport to a hospital, but that “usually happens.”

He said, in practice, PPB is more likely to issue a citation and release an individual, as it’s a “very time-consuming” process for an officer to take someone to the hospital and await treatment, taking them away from being able to respond to calls for service.

The spokesperson added that PPB doesn’t have any data tracking on this issue that he’s aware of.

KGW asked multiple agencies about the difference between refusal at the jail for a case with a judicial order to hold someone in custody, as opposed to one without a judicial order. In short, isn’t the system designed to keep someone accused of violent crimes — even if they have health issues — in custody?

As of Wednesday night, involved agencies have been unable to respond to that question.

Multnomah County’s Corrections Health makes the decision to deny an individual booking to the jail based on health or medical reasons.

A county spokesperson said health privacy laws prohibit the county from sharing specific information about Cummins, adding that the jail is “not a hospital” and not able to provide advanced medical care.

That spokesperson said that the list of reasons someone would be denied for health reasons in the jail booking process could include reported ingestion of drugs, untreated wounds or infections, altered mental status, pregnancy, a motor vehicle accident, chest pain, hypertension, or being heavily intoxicated or under the influence.

Prosecutors are now seeking to ensure that Cummins is not released from jail again.

Cummins is set to appear in court Thursday morning for a preventative detention hearing — which the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office described as a way to deny any form of release as the case progresses, due to the violent nature of the alleged crimes and the risk to the public.

Cummins is accused of attempted murder or aggravated murder, first-degree assault, first-degree bias crime, and other charges. Police say he robbed a store, yelled racial slurs, stabbed two 17-year-old boys on a MAX train, and later ran from police. 

One of the boys was stabbed and the knife “nicked” his heart, according to a police affidavit, prompting emergency open-chest surgery at OHSU. However, PPB described the injuries to both teenagers as not life-threatening.

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