Newly released video shows detention officers at the Pottawatomie County jail tackling and pinning down a man in the throes of a mental health crisis who later died.
The Frontier sued jail officials in 2021 after they denied access to video and other records pertaining to the 2019 death of Ronald Gene Given after a struggle with Pottawatomie County detention officers.
Jail officials released a redacted version of the video on Friday after an appeals court ruled in December in The Frontier’s favor. Given’s face and the faces of detention officers were blurred to obscure their identities in the released video.
The soundless video shows detention officers tackling and struggling with Given after the detainee stripped off his orange jail scrubs and stood nude inside a holding cell.
As many as four detention officers held Given in a prone position on the floor as he struggled against them. One detention officer pinned Given down with a knee to the back at one point during the struggle. After Given stopped moving, officers called for a nurse, who began chest compressions on the prisoner, the video shows.
Shawnee police arrested Given after he allegedly shoved an officer who was watching over him at a local hospital while waiting for a bed a mental health facility to open up. Police had taken Given to the hospital for a mental health evaluation in January 2019 after he caused a disturbance at the Shawnee Tractor Supply store, claiming that someone was trying to kill him.
Given was at the Pottawatomie County Justice Center for less than 10 hours before jailers released him on a medical bond and transported him to the hospital, records show. He died in an Oklahoma City hospital a week later on Jan. 16, 2019.
The state medical examiner ruled Given’s death a homicide, finding that the 42-year old died from organ failure caused by cardiac arrhythmia from struggling as officers restrained him. But no one has ever been charged in connection with his death.
Given’s aunt, Eva Kopaddy, filed a federal lawsuit in 2020 claiming surveillance footage shows a detention officer holding Given down by pressing a knee on his neck, ultimately causing his death. The lawsuit is still ongoing.
Kevin R. Kemper, an attorney for Kopaddy, said that his client was pleased that the video was finally in the public domain. “She demands that justice be done,” Kemper said. “We will cooperate fully with prosecutors as they pursue whoever is responsible for this.”