Oklahoma county agrees to $12.5 million settlement over death of inmate left in restraint chair for 2 days

Officials in Garfield County in Oklahoma announced a $12.5 million settlement over the death of an inmate left in a restraint chair for two days at the county jail, according to published reports.

Anthony Huff was arrested for public intoxication on June 4, 2016. He was held at the Garfield County Jail, where investigators said he was placed in a restraint chair on June 6 and found unresponsive on June 8. He was declared dead later that day.

The Garfield County Board of Commissioners filed suit on behalf of Huff’s family over the death of the 58-year-old. During his time in the chair, Huff was not given “proper amounts of food, water or medical treatment for illnesses he was suffering from,” said a release obtained by KFOR from Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter. The lawsuit alleged negligence and violation of Huff’s constitutional rights.

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An autopsy performed days after Huff died said the cause of death had been natural, most likely related to his chronic alcoholism.

In the 2017 federal lawsuit, lawyers alleged jail employees should have been aware of Huff’s medical conditions from his past incarcerations and known that he took medications for heart disease, hypertension, depression and other conditions.

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The lawsuit said Huff started experiencing hallucinations and was placed in the restraint chair. A jail administrator testified that Huff was restrained after he began kicking doors and hitting his head on a wall, according to the Enid News & Eagle.

Jail staff didn’t receive a medical recommendation to use the chair, according to the lawsuit. Jail employees did not check Huff’s blood pressure regularly, didn’t give him his blood pressure medication and did not provide him hydration every two hours.

The board said in a statement Monday it “deeply regrets” Huff’s death and the settlement is “reasonable under the circumstances.”

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Former jail administrator Jennifer Niles pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in Huff’s death and received a 55-hour jail sentence. The board said they hoped the hiring of a new jail administrator, along with policy changes, would “serve to promote the well-being of detainees.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.