Family suing Oklahoma County Jail after death of loved one; sheriff disputes the accusations

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A metro family is suing the Oklahoma County Jail and Oklahoma County Board of Commissioners for the death of their loved one.

On June 9, 44-year-old Lorez Chambers was arrested for trespassing and public intoxication after allegedly making sexual gestures while on a stranger's property.

Police say he resisted arrest, but was eventually taken into custody with the help of two nearby construction workers.

The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office says Chambers was never booked into jail. Instead, he was taken to a hospital.

After spending 10 days in a coma, he died.

“On Sunday June 19, which was Father’s Day, we lost a father. We lost a grandfather, son and a husband,” Debrrah Briggs, Chamber's mother-in-law, said.

More than a month later, Chambers' family is still trying to cope with his death.

“This is a nightmare come true," Briggs said. "We’re going to miss him and we’re going to mourn him for the rest of our lives. Perhaps truth and justice can bring some peace."

His family alleges that he died after receiving four skull fractures. They believe his injuries occurred while he was in custody at the Oklahoma County Jail.

It's a claim the family's attorney said came from an eyewitness account.

The lawsuit claims while in custody Chambers' "face was slammed into a window", and at one point he was "restrained on the floor by approximately 15 detention officers".

“The correctional officers doing their job in the course and scope of their employment inflicted deadly injuries upon Mr. Chambers. If we can prove that fact, that’s a state law claim, we will win,” Rand C. Eddy, the family's attorney, said.

However, Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel says the accusations are untrue, adding that his employees did nothing wrong.

“First, let me extend our condolences to the family of Mr. Chambers,” Whetsel said Friday at a press conference.

He said Chambers was taken to the hospital 49 minutes after his arrival.

He added Chambers' entire trip to the jail was captured by several different surveillance cameras.

“At no time was Mr. Chambers struck, punched nor was his head ever slammed against anything by any member of the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office or by any member of the Oklahoma City Police Department while he was on jail property,” Whetsel said.

The sheriff said he is offended by the allegations.

“Even including some African-American jail employees did their job on June the 9th in a very professional manner,” Whetsel said. “I am tired of the baseless and untrue comments and innuendos being made about the Oklahoma County Jail and the dedicated public servants who work here."

Both sides are looking to resolve the matter in court.

"This is all about answers, answers to what happened. We don’t know what happened,” Briggs said.

The family is seeking upwards of $75,000.

The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office is not releasing the video pending litigation.

Neither the family, nor their attorney, has seen it.

The Oklahoma City Police Department is investigating.

We are waiting on an autopsy report from the Medical Examiner.