OKLAHOMA COUNTY (KFOR) – Oklahoma County paid a $3 million settlement to a former county jail inmate who claimed a detention officer broke his neck and left him paralyzed for the rest of his life.
In 2017, Torrance Gene Jackson was arrested during a traffic violation because he failed to follow police instructions and was tased by officers.
He was first taken to the hospital to get the taser electrodes removed and then he was taken to the Oklahoma County Detention Center where he says he was assaulted by a guard during the booking process.
“The officer who brought him in unfortunately, I guess, made the mistake of going to do some paperwork and left him in the hands of some of the Oklahoma County jailers. And in a very short period of time, Torrance had his neck broken… He didn’t think he was ever going to get any help. He didn’t, I mean, he trusted us and it took years,” said Bill Medley, Torrance Gene Jackson’s attorney.
Bill Medley, Torrance Jackson’s attorney was emotional talking with KFOR over what happened inside the walls of the Oklahoma County Jail and ultimately watching the security footage himself of the horrific incident.
“Torrance didn’t do anything other than tell a jailer that he couldn’t take off a pair of work boots with his hands handcuffed behind his back. So, within a matter of 30 seconds or less, after telling the jailer he couldn’t do it, he had a broken neck… Something aggravated this officer about that,” said Medley.
Jackson is now a quadriplegic and lives at an assisted living facility with 24/7 care.
“He was handcuffed behind his back, and they yanked his arms up behind him twice. The second time well above the head of the officer. And when Mr. Jackson leaned forward in response to that pain, he was kind of led down a wall and the officer stuck a leg out in front of him, grabbed through one of his arms, and basically, I would say, call it a pile drive to the top of his head into the cement floor. And that broke his neck… This was, you know, almost an execution attempt,” said Medley.
The Oklahoma County Commissioners agreed to pay the $3 million settlement. Oklahoma County Commissioner, District 2, Brian Maughan said the jail could have done better.
“We’re certainly sympathetic to the plaintiff and understanding of the issues that were at hand. So, these were things that I like to point out that happened before the jail trust took over is one of the reasons why we felt it was necessary, or at least I did, to have a jail trust. And so these kind of situations could perhaps be avoided,” said Maughan.
Maughan hopes after this case, things like this are less likely to occur inside the county jail.
“I think we’ve moved into a better era with the jail trust. I think a lot of precautions have been put in place and checks and balances and different situations for protocol. So the best practices are being implemented in many more cases. So, I’m hopeful that this will be something of times past and that this will be a rare occurrence in the future,” said Maughan.
We reached out to the Oklahoma County Jail for a comment, they told KFOR, “We have nothing to do with the lawsuit or the settlement. That took place several years before the trust took over operations of the jail. The Sheriff’s office was in charge at that time.”
As for the detention officer who committed the act, Jackson’s lawyer told KFOR the guard was reprimanded and referred to the DA’s office for a potential criminal charge.
KFOR reached out to the DA’s office to confirm that, and we are waiting to hear back.
There were also two other guards in the room at the time who allegedly didn’t step in to stop the incident.