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EXCLUSIVE: Okla. man almost dies in police custody

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OKLAHOMA CITY - An Oklahoma City man said he almost died after a car accident because police failed to get him medical treatment in a timely manner.

On Christmas Eve Heshem Hendam was driving through the intersection of 122nd and McArthur when he and another driver crashed.

When police arrived Hendam said his passenger was treated by EMSA while police questioned whether he was drunk.

"She said to me, you're drunk, she just concluded that. I said no I'm not drunk. I didn't drink anything. I didn't do any narcotics" said Hendam

He says the officer didn't believe him.

"They hand cuffed me they put me in the back of the police car. I was like a caged animal in the back of the police car while I'm injured and losing consciousness gradually, and I'm pain asking for help," he said.

Instead of being taken to Mercy Hospital which was closer from the accident scene at 2.8 miles away with an approximate 4 minute drive he was taken to Deaconess Hospital which is about 6 miles away and a 13 minute drive.

"The first thing they did is not to check me but to draw blood out of me for the toxicology report." He said that was done at the officer's request. He gave News Channel 4 a copy of the toxicology that shows he didn't have any alcohol or drugs in his system.

"I came so close to dying so close to dying because there were so many hours wasted. What is interesting I had a visible swollen lump on my face from where I got hit," Hendam said.

Doctors then realized he had a serious head injury and needed emergency surgery to stop the bleeding on his brain.

Hours after the accident - he was finally transported to St. Anthony Hospital. Hendam said his doctors told him he was close to being in a vegetative state and risked permanent abnormalities because of how long it took for him to receive medical treatment.

"Suppose I died, if I died and lost my life I wouldn't be here to say my own story," he said while crying. "I'm nobody I don't have anything to fight with they are the police, they are so strong and powerful I cannot defend myself against them. They have the power to prove whatever they want."

"This is really a life or death kind of decision that this officer missed on," said his attorney Eric Cotton.

Heshem and Cotton are now suing the city of Oklahoma City and the police department.

Cotton said, "If the officer would have just let EMSA take a look at him, if she had him transported to a hospital in a quicker manner maybe he wouldn't have had to undergo the brain surgery that he had to undergo on an emergency basis."

The attorney points to what he calls numerous inaccuracies within the police report. First, it shows a diagram of Hendam hitting the other vehicle basically putting him at fault. But pictures taken by the insurance adjuster shows damage on one side of the car and no damage anywhere else, supporting the claim Hendam was t-boned by the other driver.

The second, is the report has the wrong hospitals listed. This paperwork shows the woman in the car with Hendam was taken to St. Anthony Hospital when in fact she was taken to Mercy Hospital. Then it states he was taken there as well when he was actually taken to Deaconess Hospital first then to St. Anthony.

Mix-ups like this make Cotton question everything that happened at the scene. "So many things could have been done that more likely than not could have prevented this from getting to the life threatening situation that it did," he said.

While Hendam has a permanent scar on his head, he wants to move past this. He praises the team of surgeons at St. Anthony Hospital for saving his life.

"The staff was amazing to me. I thank God in heaven that gave me a second chance," Hendam said. But he prays this doesn't happen to anyone else.

We talked to Oklahoma City Police about this case at length for close to a week. However the department is not commenting publicly on this lawsuit.

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