OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Four years after Daryl Clinton’s sudden death following a short stint at the Oklahoma County Detention Center, his family is pressing for answers and accountability.
“Going to jail should not be a death sentence,” said his niece, Kyla Brothers. “We have to speak up.”
Officials say Daryl Clinton was booked into the Oklahoma County Detention Center on August 5, 2019, after backing his car into a light pole near the corner of NW 23rd and Ann Arbor.
“We hadn’t heard from our brother in a while [but] he got picked up and taken to jail,” said his brother, Emmitt Clinton.
Early records show Mr. Clinton was initially taken to a nearby hospital to be checked out before being booked into the jail on a related complaint.
Five days later he was rushed to St. Anthony Hospital, where he died.
“He was slowly, slowly, bleeding to death,” said his sister, Equlla Brothers.
The 56-year-old man was a recent amputee who dealt with other medical complications, including diabetes and hypertension.
At the time, county officials say Clinton died of a heart attack and ruled the death an accident.
However, an amended certificate of death provided to KFOR by the family notes the ‘immediate cause’ of death as ‘blunt force trauma of cervical spine’.
In August, a federal jury ruled in favor of Oklahoma County in a civil case Clinton’s family filed, claiming negligence by jail staff.
“I don’t think it was a jury of our peers [making the decision],” Emmitt said, shaking his head.
“More or less not guilty…I feel like that verdict was totally wrong,” he added.
While the court said the jail wasn’t to blame, the family disagrees with the outcome.
“He stood in line [during] booking, naked [and] his pants fell down [because] he wouldn’t hold them up…he had no feeling,” said Equlla.
“[Jail staff] let somebody lay up in their own defecation and urination and so forth … for days he was going through all this stuff,” added Emmitt.
“I wouldn’t treat a dog like that.”
Equlla and Emmitt say obvious injuries from the accident went unchecked by jail staff before their brother was finally rushed to the hospital.
“They thought he was faking, but the staff was not listening to him. They kept shuffling him back and forth between the 13th floor. Why they say he died from a heart attack…I don’t know,” she continued.
The family hired an out-of-state doctor for an independent evaluation.
That report found at the time he was admitted to the jail, Daryl had clear symptoms and signs of a cervical cord injury It was clear that he was not faking, and earlier identification and evaluation of his declining condition would have likely prevented his death.
“Pretty much the whole time that he was at the jail there was just total neglect on their part,” said Emmitt.
“Nobody was listening,” Equlla said.
Her voice cracked as she continued.
“In the end, once [Daryl] did pass, one of the detention officers immediately asked the question, ‘Who was going to be responsible for this.'”
“Somebody needs to be held accountable, because of the way he died and the way that he suffered.”
The family is looking at all of their options for next steps.
In the meantime, they’ve started a petition to shed light on conditions inside the jail.
The family says they are advocating for extensive training for the employees, particularly related to older men and women with medical conditions who are incarcerated.