Video released of struggle that led to Caddo County inmate's death
ANADARKO — A surveillance video from the Caddo County Detention Center was made public Monday, showing an inmate being choked unconscious after grappling with two jailers inside a cell.
The inmate, Darius Robinson, 41, of Oklahoma City, was declared dead April 4 at a hospital's emergency room shortly after the struggle. The state medical examiner's office ruled his death a homicide by asphyxiation due to manual compression of the neck.
"Cardiovascular disease and a history of recently being pepper sprayed are considered contributory," the doctor who did the autopsy reported.
Attorneys for the inmate's family said Monday they will file a civil rights lawsuit in federal court to force changes at the jail.
Robinson was the victim of "unconstitutional excessive force by the jailers," bad policies and training, and a failure to get him medical help immediately, said Malik Z. Shabazz, president of Black Lawyers for Justice.
Shabazz spoke in the shade of a large tree outside the jail, flanked by other attorneys and two of Robinson's sons and a brother. The attorney complained Robinson died after a jail supervisor gave the order, “Choke him out.”
“I have to ask the question ... to this county, to this jail, to these officials, ‘Do black lives really matter?'” Shabazz said.
Two jailers were put on administrative leave after the incident but no criminal charges have been brought against them. The state's multicounty grand jury reviewed evidence about the death earlier this month but did not issue any indictments over it.
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Caddo County District Attorney Jason Hicks said he will issue a statement in the next week or so about the investigation into the death. The Caddo County sheriff released the surveillance video to the media Monday, with the permission of the district attorney.
Unpaid child support
Robinson was in the Caddo County jail over unpaid child support, records show. He had been there only a few days. He had alerted jailers that he might need medical care for withdrawal symptoms because of his prescription drug use, attorneys said.
Robinson is seen acting erratically for most of the video.
The video shows Robinson alone in a large cell with what appears to be a blanket around his shoulders. Robinson then pulls the blanket off himself and begins wrestling with it, whipping it around and later climbing atop it on the floor.
He eventually grabs a parcel of some sort and strews its contents around the cell. He remains alone in the cell for nearly 45 minutes afterward.
A male and female jailer walk into the cell and Robinson remains calm for about a minute before starting to grapple with the male jailer.
It appears that the female jailer attempts to use some form of pepper spray before jumping into the struggle.
All three wrestle on the floor for about a minute before the male jailer gets Robinson into a choke hold.
The inmate goes limp and is handcuffed.
Robinson appears unresponsive after being handcuffed, and the female jailer attempts CPR for a brief period, and Robinson is rolled onto his stomach and materials inside the cell placed under his head. He appears to wake up or begin convulsing for a few seconds before going limp once again.
Emergency crews enter the cell about 10 minutes after Robinson goes limp and begin CPR again before placing him on a stretcher and removing him from the cell and camera view.
Robinson was arrested in Oklahoma County on March 31 and transferred to Anadarko the next day, according to jail records.
Attorneys for the Robinson family said his death is not an isolated incident. A federal lawsuit filed in April blames the Caddo County jail for a 2014 inmate death.
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,... Read more ›