The Carter County Sheriff’s Office failed to follow a state law requiring it to alert the state’s jail inspector of inmate deaths and follow up with a report, an investigation by The Frontier has found.
State law requires the sheriff’s office to immediately report an inmate death to the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s jail inspection division and follow up with a report within 24 hours. In cases where an inmate is seriously injured or in incidents “requiring transfer to outside medical facility,” the office must alert the jail inspector no later than the next working day.
However, the Carter County Sheriff’s Office never submitted an incident report to the jail inspector in the 2015 death of Michael Manos, according to the state’s Health Department. Additionally, because the sheriff’s office did not submit an incident report, the state’s jail inspector never conducted an investigation into Manos’ death.
The health department was unaware it did not investigate Manos’ death until questioned about the case by The Frontier. Instead, an investigative report into the death of an inmate who died in the Carter County Jail earlier that year was apparently mistakenly filed under Manos’ name, a health department spokesman said.
“There are no additional documents and there was never an incident report filed,” health department spokesman Tony Sellars said in an email.
Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant did not return requests for comment by publication time on Friday.
Former sheriff Milton Anthony, who was sheriff when Manos died, could not be reached for comment. He resigned from his position a few months after being charged with two felonies — receiving a bribe and sexual battery for groping a female —in July 2016. He later pleaded guilty to bribery, entering into a plea agreement that dropped the sexual battery charge.
Manos was a 44-year old Army veteran who became unresponsive in the jail and died in 2015. Sheriff’s office employees have said Manos refused to take his medications at the jail and received proper health care. But the man’s estate disputes that and has filed a civil lawsuit in federal court alleging staff violated Manos’ civil rights by being deliberately indifferent to his medical needs.
Records show Manos struggled with mental health, and had bipolar disorder and showed signs of schizophrenic disorder. He was booked into the Carter County jail on Oct. 23, 2015, after he was charged with assault and battery on a police officer and emergency medical technician.
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 because of the condition of his mental health.
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, according to Veteran Affairs records. 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, a medics’ report states. Manos had a history of eating his own feces during psychotic episodes. He was pronounced dead upon arrival to an Ardmore hospital on Nov. 7, 2015.
The health department’s jail inspection division’s investigative reports are given to the state’s commissioner of health and the head of the jail, and lists deficiencies in the facility. The investigations can determine whether the facility is in compliance with the state’s jail standards.
If a jail does not correct deficiencies within 60 days, the commissioner may file a complaint with a district attorney or the state’s Attorney General.
Differences in medic’s report, detention officers’ reports
In a jail incident report, a deputy said the day Manos died he had seen the man earlier that day and Manos was “acting the same as he had been the last couple of weeks.”
“He was laying on the floor, growling and mumbling to himself,” he 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 another officer 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.
The incident reports from the three deputies make no mention of Manos screaming or being covered in feces, as the medic’s report had.
In a deposition filed recently in Manos’ estate’s 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. 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.”