Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to decide if sheriff will go to trial over inmate death

Garfield County Sheriff Jerry Niles

ENID, Okla. (AP) – The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has been asked to decide whether a sheriff will go to trial over the death of an inmate who spent more than two days in a restraint chair.

Special prosecutor Chris Boring asked the court Wednesday to decide on a trial for Garfield County Sheriff Jerry Niles.

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.

Boring’s request comes after a judge in August sent three others to trial over Huff’s death but dismissed the case against Niles.