4 Oklahoma County detention officers charged with assaulting inmates

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – More trouble for the Oklahoma County Jail. Four jailers have now officially been charged with assault and battery for incidents involving inmates. The charges coming the same day another inmate is confirmed to have died inside the jail

“I think it’s very important that the public really realize what’s going on in here,” said John LaMunyon, a former inmate at the jail.

Four Oklahoma County Detention Officers– Joseph Hedderman, Frantz Desir, Antonio Rivera, and Richard Clark, have been charged with assault and battery.

The most recent incident from March 22nd, Desir allegedly got into a verbal altercation with an inmate. Court documents saying he “used both hands and shoved inmate… backwards, causing him to the fall to the ground.”

The inmate “struck his head causing a laceration to his left eye lid.”

And in February, Rivera, who was a senior detention officer at the time, accused of unlawfully shoving an inmate into cell bars. The court documents say Rivera also “delivered two knee strikes” to the inmate’s abdomen.

A second officer who responded reported she “placed her forearm on Rivera’s chest, and yelled at him to stop.”

And in that same incident, Clark, who was a senior detention officer at the time, also charged. He allegedly deployed his pepper spray into the inmate’s face “from less than a foot away.”

We spoke with John LaMunyon, who was recently an inmate in the jail, he says the lack of staff is causing big problems.

“It doesn’t surprise me. Tensions are very high up in the jail between inmates and jailers,” LaMunyon said.

And the third incident from April of 2019– back when the sheriff’s office was still in charge of the jail. Detention officer Joseph Hedderman is facing two counts of assault and battery.

Charged with unlawfully pepper spraying an inmate in the face and then kicking the inmate “in her chest/abdominal area one time.”

That inmate is now suing Hedderman– as well as former sheriff P.D. Taylor and the Board of Oklahoma County Commissioners.

That same lawsuit saying Taylor “fired” Hedderman over the incident.

Also– the day after the charges were filed, the jail sending out a release saying a 65-year-old woman, who has been identified as Christa Sullivan, died on Tuesday after experiencing a medical incident– making her the 6th inmate to die in the jail this year.

Photo goes with story
Christa Sullivan

The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority sent the following statement in regards to Sullivan’s death:

The Oklahoma County Detention Center is not able to comment on the death of a detainee because it’s currently an active investigation. That’s a routine protocol followed anytime there’s a death in the detention center. Once the investigation is complete, the report is made public.

Another former inmate we spoke with, not wanting to show his face, but says something has to change.

“I think from the top down I think that we need to revisit staff,” the inmate said. “Why are people losing their life in the system where people are supposed to be rehabilitated?”

We started contacting the detention center around 11 a.m. Wednesday morning.

“The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority has a zero tolerance policy on excessive use of force with detainees in the Oklahoma County Detention Center.

We have detailed policies that guide the detention officer’s behavior for interacting with detainees, including verbal commands and use of force. Any violation of these policies is grounds for dismissal following investigation and review.”

Tricia Everest, chair of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority

We also asked if the other jailers were still employed but have yet to hear back. 

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