PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Investigators say a man hit a woman with a large rock after he had just been released from a behavioral health facility in August 2022. Now, the woman is now suing that facility.
Sonya Gonzales had just finished up work and was waiting for her ride when her attorneys say she was suddenly attacked by a man wearing scrubs outside of the Unity Center for Behavioral Health.
According to the lawsuit, Dwayne Simpson had multiple violent mental health episodes in the weeks leading to the attack, including one case where law enforcement allege he threatened to assault a woman and “bash her skull in.”
The suit alleges officers took him to Legacy Emanuel Hospital, but he was discharged in less than an hour.
“We know there’s evidence that Mr. Simpson was making threats and engaged in concerning behavior,” said Peter Janci, Gonzales’ attorney.
The suit alleges that weeks later on August 9, Simpson was in another violent mental health crisis when he was seen as a patient at the Unity Center and “posed a danger of violence to others” – yet he was discharged.
Gonzales was attacked outside the facility moments later.
KOIN 6 News reached out to Legacy Health about the lawsuit, but they said they cannot comment on pending litigation.
“She was attacked without warning, unexpectedly, by someone she had no connection to,” Janci said. “[She] has suffered significant physical and emotional, psychological injuries because of that attack. It’s been a long road for her.”
Janci said that Gonzales is lucky to be alive.
“Being hit in the head with a 35-pound rock is something that could end the life of many people,” he said.
Janci said he hopes to get to the bottom of exactly how this happened: first, what was known to the organization and second, how they made the decision to discharge him under these circumstances.
“When you hold yourself out to do difficult work with a difficult population, you take on a responsibility and an obligation to do that work well, and to do it as well as you can. Unfortunately, the evidence so far suggests that isn’t what happened here,” Janci said.