Carter Co. jail didn’t train staff on medical protocols, former deputy testifies

“There was no training on that situation."

Donate
Michael Manos. Courtesy.
When a Carter County deputy found Michael Manos unresponsive in his cell, detention staff at the jail did not know how to properly respond, a former deputy testified Tuesday.

The former detention deputy, Josh Adams, said another deputy found Manos unresponsive while passing out medication to inmates on Nov. 7, 2015. The deputy nudged Manos with his foot before continuing to pass out medicine to other inmates. He did not alert other staff until he was finished, Adams said.

“There was no training on that situation,” he said.

Staff then took “a few minutes” to call 911, Adams said, and deputies called an off-duty supervisor to the jail, who helped perform CPR on Manos, because there was no supervisor in the jail at the time.

Adams testified for more than three hours during the first day of a civil trial in U.S. District Court over Manos’ death in the jail. He testified in front of an eight-person jury about staff training at the jail and Manos’ treatment.

Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant in his official capacity is the defendant in the lawsuit by Manos’ estate, alleging his Eighth and 14th Amendment rights were violated.

Attorneys for the Sheriff’s Office have argued Manos’ death wasn’t caused by deliberate indifference within the Sheriff’s Office, a key standard in such civil rights lawsuits. Attorneys have argued that Manos actively refused to take his medication and the jail did not refuse him medical care.

Manos, 44, died of a condition caused by a blood clot and also showed signs of dehydration, according to a medical examiner’s report. An honorably discharged Army veteran, Manos long suffered from mental health problems and showed signs of bipolar and schizophrenic disorder, records show. He was found in his cell smeared in his own feces when he died.

During his testimony on Tuesday, Adams, who was at one point a supervisor at the jail before being demoted back to a deputy, said he was never told to read the jail’s policy and procedure manual.

Adams said he did not know the jail had a protocol to conduct “special surveillance” on inmates exhibiting mental health problems, which required staff to check on those inmates every 30 minutes instead of once per hour.

He testified he did not know the jail had an emergency medical care protocol until after Manos died.

“Did you know the emergency medical care protocol existed?” asked Dan Smolen, an attorney representing Manos’ estate.

“No, sir,” Adams replied.

When deputies found Manos unresponsive, Adams said he did not feel comfortable performing CPR because he was not trained. However, he said, other deputies performed the emergency procedure. 

Adams testified he was not trained to identify medical emergencies. In the jail’s manual, it lists “sudden onset of bizarre behavior” as a sign of a medical emergency.

When Smolen asked if Manos went one to two weeks without care after he suddenly started displaying bizarre behavior, Adams responded, “Yes sir.”

Adams said he had told the jail administrator and nurse about Manos’ condition.

“I can’t go above their head,” he said. “It’s the nurse’s decision what happens medically.”

During cross-examination when asked whether he had ever complained about the training or asked for additional training, Adams said no.

Defense attorney Ambre Gooch asked Adams if he was ever concerned Manos might die.

“No,” he replied.

‘Horrific’ death
Defense attorneys for the Sheriff’s Office argued during opening statements Tuesday that Manos was a “grown man” and for several days after he was booked into the jail, he took his medications without issue.

“At one point, Mr. Manos is refusing his medication,” Gooch said. “His behavior had declined and is very unusual. He tries to flush his clothes, uses the restroom on himself.”

Gooch said jail staff cleaned and bathed Manos, and passed out his medications. He wouldn’t take them.

“It’s an unfortunate situation,” she said.

Smolen said during opening statements that the veteran’s death was “prolonged” and “horrific.” Manos laid in his cell in his own feces and urine for more than two weeks before dying, Smolen said. Jail staff cut off the water to his cell and he did not receive medical assessments or treatment.

“Carter County had a broken system,” he said. “It was a nonexistent system.”

Testimony in the case will continue Wednesday, and the trial is expected to last four to 10 days. 

Related reading:

Court records: Carter County Jail ‘not equipped to provide’ help mentally ill man needed

Your financial support for our investigative journalism is now tax deductible. To become a Friend of The Frontier, click here.

Kassie McClung

Staff writer

Kassie McClung joined The Frontier in May 2016. She reports on health, criminal justice and other state issues. Kassie holds a bachelors degree in multimedia journalism from Oklahoma State University. She likes dogs, maps and data. She can be reached at Kassie@readfrontier.com or 918-935-1044. Follow her on Twitter @KassieMcClung.
Donate