Police Respond to Misty Upham's Family's Claims of Mistreatment
Police in Auburn, Washington, deny any wrongdoing when it comes to the treatment of deceased actress Misty Upham.
“Since July of 2013, the Auburn Police Department has responded to five separate incidents involving Ms. Upham,” the department said in a statement.
“On four of those incidents, she was contacted by officers and she did not object to being transported by private ambulance for further evaluation. On the 5th incident, Misty had already left the residence and officers were unable to locate her. Each contact was handled professionally and with compassion, with the goal of getting Ms. Upham the attention and care she needed,” police said.
Her father, Charles, has claimed that she was afraid of the police, because “in an incident prior to her disappearance, the Auburn PD came to pick up Misty on an involuntary transport to the ER. She was cuffed and placed in a police car. Some of the officers began to taunt and tease her,” he said in a statement posted on Facebook.
“After Misty arrived at the ER we went to see her and she has a swollen jaw, black eye and scratches and bruises on her shoulder,” his statement continued.
RELATED: Misty Upham’s Family: ‘She Had Such a Giving Heart’
Police counter these claims, saying they never mistreated Upham on any of their prior encounters with the August: Osage County star, who struggled with mental illness.
“There have been no mistreatment complaints received by the Auburn Police Department from Ms. Upham, her family, MultiCare Auburn Medical Center, King County Sheriff’s Office, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe or elected officials at the City of Auburn,” the department’s statement reads. “It has been inferred that she may have suffered a black eye at the hands of police, but that is not correct. Rather, included in a related written report, Ms. Upham stated that she had sustained a sprained ankle and black eye when she jumped out a two-story window.”
Claims of Not Doing Enough
In his Facebook post, Charles Upham also wrote that he believes police did not do enough to try to find his daughter after she was reported missing.
“The police did not ignore Ms. Upham’s disappearance in this most recent episode,” the Auburn Police Department counters. “An active search and investigation commenced. On Oct. 6, area checks were done in and around the home where she was last seen. Officers immediately followed up on all reports of her possible whereabouts. In the course of the investigation, the detective assigned to the case spoke with friends and family, to assist us in locating Ms. Upham. The Seattle Police Department also checked an address provided by family, that Ms. Upham and members of her family were known to frequent, all with no success.”
In addition, police tried to find Upham by tracing her cellphone signal but were unable to, as her service had been disconnected before she disappeared.
The Auburn Police Department and the King County Medical Examiner’s Office are still investigating the cause of her death.
“It’s a matter of opinion on their part. They don’t realize that Misty’s mother, her sister and I witnessed their behavior and the taunting when it was going on, as well as other witnesses who saw it, too,” Charles tells PEOPLE.
“In terms of the bruises and scratches she received, I don’t have any proof that they did anything, but I’m assuming that based on the fact that she was okay when she left and that they are responsible for it,” he says. “It would be much better if they would have at least contacted us about this. We haven’t heard anything from them. I’ve been contacting them and they won’t return my calls. It’s unprofessional.”
As her father continues to search for answers, Upham’s loved ones are honoring the late actress. On Wednesday night, Frozen River producer Heather Rae hosted a memorial in Los Angeles.
“It was very emotional – everybody was crying at some point – but it was very joyous at the same time,” says Upham’s friend, actress Sally Kirkland. “I’m an ordained minister and said a prayer and a blessing for Misty. Everyone began to share stories about her and play music and sing. One of her Native American friends performed a Native American ritual where he passed a bowl around with burning incense and you waved the smoke into your heart. It was very touching. I think she would have been very happy. Her spirit was definitely present.”
• With reporting by K.C. BAKER