As medics arrived at Michael Manos’ jail cell, a deputy exited the area gagging and nearly vomited. Manos was laying on the floor. He had stopped breathing.
Feces were smeared across the 44-year old veteran and throughout his cell, according to a medic’s account of the incident. Moments before first responders entered the Carter County Jail, a deputy reportedly told medics Manos had been screaming for 20 minutes prior to their arrival.
When medics transported him to an Ardmore hospital on Nov. 7, 2015, Manos was pronounced dead upon arrival.
The medic’s report is one of several records entered into a lawsuit that was filed by Manos’ mother on July 25, 2017. The suit alleges Carter County Sheriff’s Office employees violated Manos’ civil rights when they were deliberately indifferent to the mentally ill man’s medical needs.
Manos’ mother, Jeanne Bennett, is now urging a federal judge to allow the suit to continue and deny requests from the former and current sheriff asking to dismiss it.
“It is no exaggeration to say that the Jail staff’s continuing and unconscionable failure to respond to Mr. Manos’ serious, emergent and obvious mental health and medical needs produced ‘physical torture’ and a ‘lingering death,’” wrote Manos’ estate in a court filing opposing the case’s dismissal.
Former Carter County Sheriff Milton Anthony and current sheriff Chris Bryant, in court filings, have denied any wrongdoing. Both have asked the judge to dismiss the case. Anthony’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
Bryant, citing pending litigation, declined to comment.
“I would love to (comment), but I can’t,” he said.
Anthony resigned from his position a few months after being charged with two felonies in July 2016 — receiving a bribe and sexual battery for groping a female employee. He pleaded guilty to bribery, entering into a plea agreement that dropped the sexual battery charge.
Bennett alleged in her federal lawsuit if jail staff would have provided Manos with proper supervision, medication and medical care, her son would not have died.
However, defendants say Manos received proper care but refused to take his medication.
A long struggle with mental health
Manos, who was honorably discharged from the Army in the early 90s, had a history of running into trouble during a manic phase. He had bipolar disorder and showed signs of schizophrenic disorder, according to Veteran Affairs records filed in the case.
At an exotic interactive zoo in Pauls Valley in 2012, Manos tried to release tigers. When asked why he tried to free the large cats, VA records state, Manos declared: “I am Prince Michael, Prince of Greece.” He wanted to save the animals from “evil people.”
At the time, Manos, looking unkempt and anxious, told an Oklahoma City VA employee he hadn’t slept for days. He was hungry and could not remember the last time he had eaten. The VA put him in emergency detention into its inpatient psychiatric unit.
Prior to Manos’ intake, his mother didn’t know where he was and had reported him as a missing person. Before his episode, he was doing well living with her and working at Whataburger, where he had a paycheck waiting for him, VA records show.
About three years later, Manos was arrested and charged with assault and battery on a police officer and an emergency medical technician. He was booked into the Carter County Jail on October 23, 2015.
On November 5, two days before his death, Manos’ mother called the VA and told an employee she had spoken with jail staff and was told her son wasn’t taking his medication and was causing “a lot of problems,” VA records show. They were considering releasing him from jail early.
Bennett told the VA employee she couldn’t handle Manos when he was off his medicine and wanted to bring him in with hopes of stabilizing him. She said she would find the release date for her son and act accordingly.
Manos “refused” food and medication, including insulin for his diabetes, for days before he died, according to a supplemental medical examiner’s report. However, his estate questions whether the medications were available to him or if he was capable of accepting them.
Manos was supposed to be released to his mother the day he died, the report said, but she instead arranged to come the following day so she could bring one of her son’s friends to help. They planned to take the man to the VA for medical care.
Manos died from a condition caused by a blood clot in his lung, according to a medical examiner’s report. Paramedics reported Manos was in cardiac arrest when they first encountered him in his cell. Medics, in their report, noted no one was performing CPR when they arrived, and deputies said they were in the middle of switching partners.
Medics could not insert a tube into Manos’ airway because a large amount of feces was blocking it, the medics’ report states. Manos had a history of eating his own feces during psychotic episodes.
Deputy Josh Adams is named as a defendant in the suit and was at the Carter County Jail when Manos died. In a deposition he said he saw Manos, who was naked most of the time, lying in his own feces for up to two weeks prior his death. At first, Adams said, he thought Manos was faking, “but the longer it went on, it was apparent that it wasn’t an act.”
Adams said the jail was “not equipped to provide” the kind of help Manos needed.
In an incident report, Adams said he had seen Manos earlier that day and that he was “acting the same as he had been the last couple of weeks.”
“He was laying on the floor, growling and mumbling to himself,” Adams wrote.
Another deputy reported he found Manos in his cell unresponsive and nudged Manos with his foot before he continued to pass out medication to other inmates, according to jail incident reports.
“During this time, when I asked him if he wanted his meds, his chest was barely moving and I couldn’t get a verbal response from him,” the deputy wrote in the report. “At this time I tapped his foot a few with my shoe and I saw his chest rise a few times. I asked him one more time if he wanted his meds and he wouldn’t answer.”
Afterward, the deputy told Adams about Manos’ state, according to incident reports. The two deputies returned to Manos’ cell and discovered he had no pulse. Deputies then called an ambulance to the jail.
In an incident report, another deputy said when he arrived at Manos’ cell to start chest compressions, he found the man lying partially underneath his bunk. Deputies took turns doing chest compressions until paramedics arrived, the deputy wrote.
When paramedics arrived, jail staff told them Manos had been refusing to take his medication, according to the medics’ prehospital care report.
The incident reports from the three deputies make no mention of Manos screaming or being covered in feces.
During a deposition, the jail’s nurse said she did not do rounds to check on the inmates, but detention officers did.
Asked whether she or the officers completed medical assessments of inmates, the nurse said no. She said she wasn’t aware on Manos’ condition or that he hadn’t been taking his medications, but noted she believed inmates receive adequate care at the jail.
In a deposition filed recently in the lawsuit, former sheriff Anthony said he was unaware of Manos’ deteriorating medical condition and depended on the nurse and jail administrator to monitor inmates’ conditions. However, he said he tried to visit the jail every day, but he always went at least once a week.
Asked in a deposition what led to Manos’ death, Anthony said he did not read the jail’s incident report. When he was questioned as to why, Anthony replied: “I don’t usually read them.”
Later asked whether he tried to determine whether there were inadequacies in the jail’s medical delivery system, Anthony said he did not and couldn’t recall asking anyone else to.
The suit alleges a pattern and practice of the sheriff’s office “falsifying, or omitting material facts from, jail records, reports and other documents to cover up CCSO employee’s overall disregard for inmates’ health and safety.”