GARFIELD COUNTY, Okla. – An Oklahoma sheriff and three other people were charged with first-degree manslaughter connected to the in-custody death of a man in 2016.
On Wednesday, Garfield County Sheriff Jerry Lee Niles, Jr. was charged with first-degree manslaughter in the 2016 death of Anthony Dewayne Huff. Niles was also charged with two misdemeanor counts of nepotism.
According to the Enid News & Eagle, first-degree manslaughter charges were also filed against then-jail administrator Jennifer Shay Niles, and jailers John Robert Markus and Shawn Caleb Galusha.
All four were actually indicted last year on a charge of second-degree manslaughter in Huff’s death. However, District Attorney Christopher Boring requested the indictment be dismissed so the state could file new charges in the case. In December, a judge granted Boring’s request and dismissed the cases.
The charges all stem from the death of 58-year-old Anthony Dewayne Huff.
Officials say Huff was arrested on June 4, 2016 for public intoxication and was held at the Garfield County Jail. Investigators say Huff was placed in a restraint chair on June 6, and was found unresponsive in the chair on June 8. Later that day, he was pronounced dead.
During his time in the chair, Huff was not given “proper amounts of food, water or medical treatment for illnesses he was suffering from,” a release from Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter read.
An autopsy performed June 9, 2016, said Huff died of natural causes, with the probable cause of death being chronic alcoholism due to a compulsive condition from a prior disease.
In a federal lawsuit filed in 2017, lawyers allege jail employees were negligent because they should have known about Huff’s medical conditions from previous incarcerations and been aware that he took medications for heart disease, hypertension, depression and other conditions.
Huff started hallucinating and exhibiting delusions at some point during his incarceration and was placed in the restraint chair, the lawsuit says.
Jail personnel didn’t receive a medical recommendation to use the chair, the lawsuit says, and jail employees didn’t check his blood pressure regularly, didn’t give him blood pressure medication and didn’t offer him hydration every two hours.
Jail policy required the employees to check on Huff every 15 minutes but the lawsuit alleges that they didn’t do so.
The latest charges accuse the employees of “unlawfully, willfully, intentionally and feloniously, without a premeditated design” causing Huff’s death.
The sheriff also faces nepotism charges after he allegedly appointed his son and daughter-in-law to new positions at the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and “increased the salary, wages, pay or compensation” for them.