Lawsuit Filed In Ottawa County Inmate's Death

Wednesday, January 29th 2020, 6:39 pm
By: Amy Kauffman

A family is suing Ottawa County Jail and others after a man died at the jail in 2015. Court Records say Terral Ellis turned himself in at Ottawa County Jail for an outstanding warrant for a DUI on October 10th of 2015.

The family’s attorney, Dan Smolen, said Ellis wanted to turn himself in to get the warrant taken care of so he could provide for his child.

They said he was in good health when he went into the Ottawa County Jail, then 12 days later October 22nd, 2015, Ellis was transported to the hospital in septic shock where he later died.

Ellis was only 26.

Now his family is suing the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office and several of its former employees accusing them of not properly treating Ellis when he got pneumonia.

"I can't imagine being in their shoes having to see what is on the video - his having to beg for help, and then to have people laugh at him,” said Attorney Dan Smolen.

Smolen said jail staff can also be heard in the video mocking Ellis while he’s complaining of pain in his back, ribs, and organs. Other inmates said Ellis was having seizures, sweating uncontrollably and was also unable to walk at times.

Tulsa Attorney Dan Smolen says even other inmates could tell Terral Ellis needed medical treatment, but the inmates said Ellis was continually denied that help by medical staff and the nurse.

"He would lay there and get sicker as the days go on, and the inmates were begging the jail staff to do something about it, and they wouldn't," said Ellis.

Smolen says inmates eventually got the staff to call paramedics, but then jail staff told paramedics Ellis was faking his sickness so he could bond out.

Smolen believes paramedics from Integris Baptist did not give Ellis proper care, and he was eventually moved to a solitary confinement cell.

"His pneumonia progresses, and they threaten him that if he complains they're going to chain him to a metal buckle on the floor,” said Smolen.

Smolen said the paramedics were called a second time, then Ellis later died at the hospital. The Medical Examiner ruled Ellis died of sepsis and pneumonia.

Smolen said the audio from the video inside the jail really tells the story of what happened.

"You don’t fully understand what’s happening until you hear the audio, and then it really comes to light," said Smolen.

Current Ottawa County Sheriff Jeremy Floyd said there was an internal investigation done at the time, but he doesn’t know if any disciplinary action was taken against the two former jail staff and the jail nurse because he wasn't sheriff at the time.

He said the jail has since changed medical contractors, and the safety and health of inmates is his top priority.

"Ultimately it’s our goal to get them through our system without any major problems or major incidents that could happen that we don't want to have to incorporate,” said Sheriff Jeremy Floyd.

News On 6 contacted everyone involved in the lawsuit, and the only one who got back to us was Integris Baptist. They said they cannot comment on ongoing litigation.