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Lawsuit claims that jail staff ignored dying inmate’s pleas for help

OTTAWA COUNTY, Okla. – An Oklahoma family has filed a lawsuit against the Ottawa County Jail after they say staff attempted to cover up their loved one’s death.

In October of 2015, 26-year-old Terral Ellis II died inside the Ottawa County Jail.

Prior to his death, family members say Ellis had complained to jail staff about feeling ill for almost a month, but no one did anything to help him.

“Over the time that he was in the jail, he developed an illness that went undiagnosed and untreated,” said Daniel Smolen, the family’s attorney.

According to the lawsuit, Ellis complained to detention staff and medical staff about having seizures, the inability to walk and pain in his torso.

“There was no one there that provided care to Terral Ellis. In fact, all the records indicate that they thought he was faking his illness,” Smolen told FOX 23.

The lawsuit claims that other inmates attempted to help Ellis by hand-feeding him and giving him water.

The day before Ellis’ death, jail staff members called 911 after Ellis suffered multiple seizures.

However, the suit claims that staff members told paramedics that Ellis was “faking his illness” and that “the County was not going to foot the bill.”

The next day, Ellis was reportedly found with a bed sheet tied around his neck, making it look like he attempted suicide.

According to the lawsuit, the medical examiner recorded no injuries to Ellis’ neck and determined that he died of sepsis and pneumonia.

FOX 23 reached out to the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office for comment, but was told the sheriff was unavailable.