Garfield County, Oklahoma Sheriff Jerry Niles and 5 other jail officials are finally facing second-degree manslaughter charges after the death of an inmate last year.
Oklahoma’s multi-county grand jury said in the indictments that Niles, 59, and the 5 others were responsible for 58-year-old Anthony Huff’s death by allowing the inmate “to remain in a restraint chair for over 48 hours without adequate food or water,” reported The Oklahoman.
On Tuesday, Niles, who was first elected in 2012, pleaded not guilty to the charges, and had his bail set at $5,000.
The other suspects were identified as 38-year-old Vanisa Jo Gay, a nurse; 29-year-old John Robert Markus, assistant jail administrator; 57-year-old Lela June Goatley, a nurse practitioner; 37-year-old Shawn Caleb Galusha, a detention officer-supervisor; and 34-year-old Jennifer Niles, the sheriff’s daughter-in-law, who was the jail administrator at the time of the incident.
If convicted, each suspect will face up to 4 years in prison and a $1,000 fine.
Despite the manslaughter charges, Niles is still in control of the sheriff’s office and the jail.
After Huff was found unresponsive in the restraint chair, he was pronounced dead at the jail on June 8, 2016.
Huff only spent 4 days in jail after a public intoxication complaint before he was restrained and killed. He was first put in the chair on June 6 of last year, after he reportedly began hallucinating.
The pathologist who conducted an autopsy determined Huff died as a result of complications from his chronic alcoholism.
His estate filed a federal lawsuit claiming Huff “died due to conditions related to his withdrawal from alcohol and the effects it had on his body and system.”
The sheriff, Garfield County commissioners and others are named as defendants in the lawsuit, which seeks actual and punitive damages. The lawsuit is currently pending in federal court in Oklahoma City.
The family remains hopeful there will be justice in this case.
“It is our hope and belief that justice will be served as those who have been indicted … for their involvement in this death now proceed through our criminal-justice system,” Eddie Wyant, one of the attorneys for Huff’s estate, said.
(Article By James Carter)