A man paralyzed after being shot by a security guard at a south Tulsa apartment complex back in February died Tuesday night.
The family of Monroe Bird III believes he wouldn't have died if he was still hospitalized, and they partly blame the district attorney and the lack of criminal charges in the case for his ultimate death.
Family said Bird passed away around 10:00 Tuesday night after losing all brain function.
Surrounded by family and friends, Bird was released from Select Specialty Hospital on June 1 - ventilator in tow.
At the time, Bird's father said he was frustrated and that the discharge was unfair.
"The D.A. has chosen not to pursue any charges against him until now, and that's causing the insurance company to deny my son's benefits," he said.
On February 4, Bird was shot in the neck and paralyzed in the parking lot of the Deerfield Estates Apartments.
Police said Bird was in a car with a young girl in the backseat when apartment security guard Ricky Stone came to check on the situation.
Stone said when he asked for ID Bird wouldn't respond and threw the car in reverse, hitting Stone, forcing him to shoot at the car.
The shooting put Bird in the hospital for four months.
The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office found no wrongdoing and didn't charge either man.
Now, in the wake of Bird's sudden death, the family has issued a statement, saying:
“The family is devastated with the sudden death of Monroe, by the time the ambulance arrived to their home his heart already stopped beating. Medical staff worked hard to keep him alive but unfortunately they were unsuccessful.
We understand that God was in charge of Monroe’s life and death. However, the Tulsa DA was in charge of charging the security guard Ricky Stone, however he chose not to charge him with intent to kill even after drugs were found on Ricky Stone.
As a result of Tulsa DA Steve Kunzweiler[‘s] decision to justify the shooting the [family’s] private insurance benefits were denied which prevented Monroe from going to rehab with a fully trained medical staff by his bedside. No ambulance would have needed to be called if Monroe was in rehab [where] he deserved to be.”
The family claims Bird’s discharge from the hospital ultimately led to the decline in his health.
We contacted the Oklahoma Insurance Commission, which said the Bird family can file a complaint against their insurer, but does point out that some companies can drop coverage under certain circumstances listed in the policy.
District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said:
“I understand and empathize with the pain the family of Monroe Bird is experiencing. As a parent, the loss of a child through tragic circumstances is unimaginable.
My decision to decline to file criminal charges in the shooting was based upon the evidence provided to me following an investigation of the Tulsa Police Department. If information or evidence is developed which directly bears upon the case, I will re-evaluate the case.
A decision made by an insurance company is not within the realm of my office’s responsibility.
As I have also previously stated, the Tulsa Police Department did not request criminal charges against Monroe Bird, and I did not find sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against him."
Bird’s family said they aren't sure what their next steps are, but said right now they're focusing on the loss of their loved one.