Okla. police shoot, kill inmate who took detention officer hostage
The inmate took the officer's radio and keys, and freed other inmates from nearby cells
By Dale Denwalt
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City police shot and killed an inmate at the Oklahoma County jail after a hostage situation Saturday night involving a guard.
The jail remained on lockdown Saturday night with extra staff inside, while outside, a small group of protesters chanted and pounded on the jail's parking lot gate, loud enough to be heard a block away.
The man who was killed was not identified by officials, pending family notification. Officials said he was the suspected hostage taker.
The jail employee was rescued and taken to a hospital for treatment. Jail Administrator Greg Williams said that the guard left the jail on his own, but did not provide details of his injuries.
The incident happened on the jail's 10th floor, where the inmates that are the hardest to manage are housed, Williams said.
The guard was taken hostage during medicine distribution, Williams said at a news conference Saturday night. It's likely that the detention officer would have been accompanied by a medical professional, but he said no one else was injured.
Video that appeared to be from inside the jail was shared online, showing an inmate speaking and standing next to another person who appeared to be restrained. In the video, the inmate complains about jail conditions, saying, "We can't take showers."
The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office responded just before 4:30 p.m. after the detention officer was taken hostage. The inmate took his radio and keys, and freed other inmates from nearby cells.
Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department officials asked for help from the Oklahoma City Police Department because the sheriff's office didn't have enough staff to enter the jail.
When police and sheriff's deputies arrived, Sheriff Tommie Johnson III said they tried to de-escalate the situation. However, he said the inmate had the officer in a "hostage position" with something held against the officer's neck. That's when police shot and killed the inmate.
Oklahoma City Police Chief Wade Gourley said his department would be overseeing the investigation into the shooting.
The Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson, leader of Black Lives Matter-Oklahoma City, said inmates have repeatedly complained about moldy food, lack of water and access to basic sanitation, including showers.
"This is nothing new," Dickerson said. "The inhumane conditions of the Oklahoma County jail are horrendous."
Dickerson joined others standing outside the jail earlier in the day, waiting for word of what happened.
Tears came to her eyes when a reporter said police had shot and killed one person.
"They don't respect the simple dignity of human beings when they stand up and say, 'I am a person. I don't deserve to be treated like this,'" Dickerson said.
The situation must change, she said, to protect both inmates and the Oklahomans working inside the jail.
When asked about conditions at the jail, Williams said that the jail addresses problems as they arise. He did not address any specific complaints.
This is the latest incident at a jail beleaguered by problems since its construction. Five inmates have now died at the jail this year, and two others escaped. The control of the jail shifted to the Oklahoma County Jail Trust in July from the sheriff's department.
In February, two Oklahoma County detention officers were arrested and fired after an investigation into the smuggling of drugs, cellphones and other contraband to jail inmates.
Seven jail inmates died in 2018 and six deaths were reported in 2019. Last year six died, including four after jail operations became the responsibility of the jail trust.
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