Portland: Deranged homeless man was discharged from mental health center and moments later attacked a woman with a rock

This story made the local news when it happened last August. A homeless man named Dwayne A. Simpson attacked a woman named Sonya Gonzalez with a 35lb rock as she waited for her son to pick her up after work. Gonzalez fell, hitting her head on a concrete wall and passing out. She awoke moments later covered in her own blood and sought help.


Officers responding to the Unity Center for Behavioral Health in Northeast Portland on Tuesday saw the woman — identified later as 55-year-old Sonya Gonzales — with “significant amounts of blood” dripping off her, according to a probable cause affidavit. She was attacked steps away from the center.

Two witnesses told police Gonzales appeared unconscious, lying motionless for about two minutes after the attack, according to the affidavit written by Deputy District Attorney Michael Lee.

She was taken by ambulance to the hospital after rating her pain as a “burning seven,” the affidavit said.

Now Gonzalez is suing the mental health facility which it turns out had discharged Simpson only moments before the attack. In fact, the story is worse than that. Simpson was known to have expressed homicidal thoughts including his desire to smash a woman in the head with a rock.

Portland’s behavioral health hospital knew a patient had repeatedly vocalized violent fantasies about smashing in a woman’s head but discharged him anyway onto the street outside — where the man immediately did just that, a lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges…

Dwayne A. Simpson, 40, was arrested that day on allegations including second-degree assault in the attack. Simpson told police he had just been released from the Unity Center for Behavioral Health, according to a bail memo.


The lawsuit describes in more detail Simpson’s immediate history of violent mental episodes.

On July 24, 2022, law enforcement received calls related to Dwayne Simpson reporting that Simpson was experiencing a violent mental health crisis. During this mental health crisis, Simpson was threatening to assault a woman and bash her skull in, all within the immediate vicinity of the Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center. Simpson was taken to Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center by officers as an intervention for his violent mental health crisis. On information and belief, during evaluation related to his violent mental health crisis Legacy agents learned that Simpson expressed homicidal ideation and impulses, including that he wanted to assault a woman and bash her skull in. On information and belief, Simpson was discharged by agents of Defendant in less than an hour whereupon he continued his violent mental health crisis in the immediate vicinity of Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center.

…on August 4, 2022, Simpson shattered the front and rear windshield of a parked vehicle. Simpson then walked to a gas station and told the attendant that he was hearing voices that were telling him to “kill everyone.”…

On information and belief, on August 9, 2022, Dwayne Simpson was seen as a patient at Unity Center for Behavioral Health as a result of yet another violent mental health crisis. On information and belief, during this evaluation, agents of Defendant learned of additional information indicating that Simpson posed a danger of violence to others. On information and belief, Unity discharged Simpson despite his continued need for medical and/or mental health care services and the risk of danger he posed to people on and near the premises of Unity…


August 9th was the day that Simpson (allegedly) attacked Gonzalez with a rock, smashing her in the back of the head exactly as he’d previously said he wanted to do. This is probably the least surprising crime to happen in Portland that week.

Finally, I couldn’t help but notice another passing statement made in the lawsuit. This describes what happened after Gonzales regained consciousness. [Emphasis added.]

When she regained consciousness, Ms. Gonzales reached behind her head and discovered that she was bleeding profusely. No one came to help. Ms. Gonzales struggled to her feet and made her way back into the building. Once inside, Ms. Gonzales begged two people to call 911. They could not get through.

I wonder why they couldn’t get through to the police after a woman was smashed in the head by a deranged man. Oh, right.

Eventually paramedics did arrive and took her to the hospital where she had 10 staples put in her head and was diagnosed with a concussion. I’m not a lawyer so I don’t really know if she has a case here but as a non-attorney it sounds crazy that a man expressing the desire to do violence to women would be released repeatedly. Here’s a local news story about the lawsuit. At the end of this we learn that Simpson has been committed to a mental health facility.


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John Stossel 5:30 PM | July 13, 2024