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Open door to prison cell

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An Oklahoma County Jail is being investigated after one of their inmates died in police custody.

According to Oklahoma News 4, around 2:40 a.m. on Thursday, Southwest Medical Center called Oklahoma City officers over an unrelated incident. When they arrived to the hospital, they were then notified about a combative patient who had assaulted medical personnel.

The suspect was 56-year-old Olain Jefferson, Jr., who was arrested and transported to the Oklahoma County Jail. While in police custody at the jail, investigators say Jefferson got involved in a minor use of force with Oklahoma County Jail personnel. They say he suffered some kind of “medical event” during the use of force and he was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the cause of death, say police.

Unfortunately, Jefferson is the latest to die in jail or prison custody after a line of high profile cases over the years.

Back in 2018, Everett Palmer Jr. died while in prison custody after turning himself in for a DUI charge from 2016. He was attempting to clear up the warrant so he could visit his family in New York. He was put in a single-person cell on suicide watch, per an autopsy report. Palmer began banging his head against the cell door at around 4 a.m. The report also says that correction officers used a stun gun on Palmer twice after he refused to obey a command given to him.

Personnel returned to Palmer’s cell and put him in a restraint chair. They put a hood on his head as well to keep him from spitting. When he was transported to a medical unit, “his eyes appeared still, head leaned to the side.” In 2020, his family filed to take legal action against the York County Prison in Pennsylvania, believing his death was “criminal.”

Back in 2015, the death of Sandra Bland also brought attention to dying while in police custody. Bland was stopped for a minor traffic infraction, only to be threatened and removed from her car by Trooper Brian Encinia, who arrested her. Three days later, she was found hanging in her Waller County jail cell and the death was ruled a suicide.

The video of the traffic stop went viral and sparked hashtags like #IfIDieInPoliceCustody and further pushed campaigns like #SayHerName. Bland’s family continues to demand justice for her death, especially after footage from her own phone camera was published back in 2019.


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