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County leaders agree to $12.5 million settlement in connection to inmate’s death

ENID, Okla. (KFOR) – Garfield County Commissioners say county officials have agreed to a settlement following the death of an inmate in custody.

Officials say Anthony 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.

Anthony Huff

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 on 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.

Garfield County Detention Center

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.

Now, Garfield County Commissioners say the county has entered into a settlement of the federal lawsuit.

Officials say they agreed on a $12.5 million settlement.

“The Commissioners deeply regret that Mr. Huff passed away while he was being detained at the Detention Center, and extend their sincere condolences to Mr. Huff’s family,” a statement from the Garfield County Board of Commissioners read.

The board states that juries have recently awarded similar amounts to families in other cases.

“Garfield County’s settlement of the federal lawsuit filed by Mr. Huff’s family reflects a monetary award that is reasonable under the circumstances of the case. Garfield County has always considered proper operation of the Detention Center to be a high priority, and will continue to maintain high standards at the Detention Center. The health and safety of individuals who are being detained in the Detention Center is of paramount concern.

The operation of any detention facility is a complex undertaking, but the County is committed to improving the security and safety of the Detention Center. As one step toward improving Detention Center conditions and policies, a new Jail Administrator will soon be hired. It is hoped that the hiring of the new Jail Administrator and the making of important changes in the policies and operation of the Detention Center will serve to promote the well-being of detainees.”

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