Home / National News / Inmate Death at Oklahoma Jail Prompts Call for Fixes

 

(OKLAHOMA CITY) — An Oklahoma grand jury did not hand down an indictment but did recommend improvements after reviewing a deadly jail cell confrontation between an inmate and jailers that was caught on video.

Darius Robinson, 41, described by his brother as a “loving father” of seven, was in custody at the Caddo County Jail, about 60 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, when he died following a confrontation with two jailers on April 4, officials said. He was sent to jail on April 1 for a child support warrant, his brother said.

According to the medical examiner’s report, Robinson “began acting violently and agitated in his cell. When the jail staff opened his cell door to check on him,” he “reportedly charged the staff.”

“He was subdued, handcuffed, and pepper spray was reportedly used,” the report said. “It was reported that a neck hold was also used to restrain the deceased. While lying handcuffed and prone on the jail floor, the deceased became unresponsive.” He was declared dead at the emergency room.

Robinson died from asphyxiation due to manual compression of neck, the report said, and the manner of death was ruled a homicide.

His brother, Ancio Robinson, said he was devastated by “the manner in which he passed away.”

It’s “very hard for me to absorb,” Ancio Robinson told ABC News last week.

“Me and my brother were best friends. We grew up together for 20 years,” he said. “I still feel pretty empty.”

Robinson said his brother, who had high blood pressure and suffered from anxiety, was denied medical attention two days before his death. His brother had asked for his high blood pressure medication, Robinson said. His medical file during the intake process at the jail on April 1 states that he was taking high blood pressure medication and prescription Xanax for anxiety.

Robinson said when he asked the district attorney’s office why his brother wasn’t given medical attention, he was told a physician came to the facility just one day a week.

Robinson claimed the jailers didn’t know how to assess if someone needed medical attention and the jail didn’t have “on-hand staff to deal with what became a life-threatening situation,” he said, calling it “appalling.”

“I’m concerned with that because I’m sure that my brother’s life could’ve been saved if they had training,” he said.

An attorney for the Robinson family told ABC News that a lawsuit against Caddo County and the jailers is imminent. District Attorney Jason Hicks did not comment on Robinson’s claims but said the issue would be discussed in detail during the civil lawsuit.

After Darius Robinson’s death, the sheriff requested that the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation investigate. A spokesperson for the OSBI told ABC News Tuesday that its investigations are confidential, but the District Attorney’s office said the reports were forwarded to the DA.

“Upon review of the report, Hicks requested time to appear before the Fifteenth Multi-County Grand Jury,” the DA’s office said.

The grand jury reviewed his death and made recommendations in July that were made public on Monday by Hicks. The grand jury recommended improvements, including proper restraint training, annual reviews, cleaning up procedures “that might be outdated,” and proper medical screening. The grand jury also recommended that access to medical control be released to the supervisor in the detention unit.

Hicks told ABC News on Monday that the jailers’ employment is determined by the Caddo County Sheriff’s Office but he believes they remain on leave. The Caddo County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Robinson said the fact that his brother was being held for a child support warrant — not a criminal charge — was the “saddest” part.

“This could’ve been 100 percent avoidable,” he said. “He was there for making late payments. … My impression was he was going to go to court and work out a payment plan and he’d be released.”

Days before the grand jury recommendations were released, Robinson told ABC News, “We want a policy change. That’s something that we’re really striving for. Because I don’t want any other family to go through what we’re going through.”

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