Oklahoma County to Pay $12.5M to Family of Inmate Who Died After Allegedly Being Bound to Restraint Chair For Over Two Days

Newsweek 0 month ago

An Oklahoma county has agreed to pay a $12.5 million settlement to the family of an inmate who died after allegedly being bound to a restraint chair for more than two days.

Anthony Huff was found unresponsive and strapped to a restraint chair at the Garfield County Jail in Enid, Oklahoma, on June 8, 2016. He had been arrested four days before that and booked on a public intoxication charge, KFOR reported.

Court documents said Huff was "placed in a restraint chair for 55 hours" by jail staff because he was having hallucinations, according to the station. He was allegedly not given any food or water and denied breaks and his prescriptions.

A federal civil lawsuit was filed, which accused officials of negligence and violating the inmate's constitutional rights.

A spokesman for the Garfield County Board of Commissioners confirmed to Newsweek that the county had agreed to pay $12.5 million to settle the lawsuit, subject to court approval.

In a statement to Newsweek, the board said it "deeply regrets" Huff's death and that the settlement is "reasonable under the circumstances."

The statement added that health and safety of inmates is of "paramount concern" and the jail will be hiring a new administrator to make changes that will "serve to promote the well-being of detainees."

It said: "The Commissioners deeply regret that Mr. Huff passed away while he was being detained at the Detention Center and extend their sincere condolences to Mr. Huff's family."

The statement added: "The operation of any detention facility is a complex undertaking, but the County is committed to improving the security and safety of the Detention Center.

"As one step toward improving Detention Center conditions and policies, a new Jail Administrator will soon be hired. It is hoped that the hiring of the new Jail Administrator and the making of important changes in the policies and operation of the Detention Center will serve to promote the well-being of detainees."

Attorney Eddie Wyant told KFOR that the federal lawsuit on behalf of Huff and his family was "resolved in an amicable fashion." He added: "It acknowledges the severity of this horrific death and justice and closure for this family."

Huff's autopsy report said the inmate died of "chronic alcoholism," according to the station.

Former jail administrator Jennifer Shay Niles was sentenced to 55 hours in jail in April after pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter in relation to Huff's death, the Enid News & Eagle reported.

She testified that Huff was restrained because he had been banging on doors, kicking doors and hitting his head on walls, the newspaper reported.

But prosecutor Chris Boring said Huff had been made to suffer and left to sit in his own urine and feces, according to the newspaper. He had a tray of food placed in his lap while his hands remained tied, Boring said, adding he had effectively been given the "death penalty."

Niles was among several jail employees charged after Huff's death, including Garfield County Sheriff Jerry Niles, her father-in-law.

The charges against Sheriff Niles were later dropped, but he placed himself on paid suspension amid accusations of manslaughter and nepotism in July 2017, according to the Enid News & Eagle. Sheriff Niles submitted a letter to the board announcing he would retire in August, the newspaper reported.

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Officials in Garfield County in Oklahoma have agreed to pay $12.5 million in a settlement over the death of an inmate left in a restraint chair for two days at the county jail.
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