Jail death results in lawsuit

The estate of a man who died while incarcerated in the Muskogee County/City Detention Facility in 2016 has filed a lawsuit against the county seeking damages in excess of $75,000. 

Zachary Rowell, an administrator for the estate of Marvin A. Rowell, on Monday filed the lawsuit against individuals working in the Muskogee County/City Detention Facility, supervisors of the workers and the Muskogee County commissioners. 

Muskogee County Commission Chairman Ken Doke referred any comment on the lawsuit and circumstances surrounding to Orvil Loge, Muskogee County district attorney.

"I can't comment at this time," Loge said Tuesday.

The lawsuit states that on Jan. 30, 2016, that Marvin Rowell was being held in the Muskogee County/City Detention Facility.

"He was in a obvious state of intoxication, being well known by the individual defendants on duty at the time of the subject incident as an alcoholic, having been arrested on several previous occasions and detained in said detention center," the suit said. 

Jail employee Dakota West, who was accompanied by fellow jailer Jacob Slay, allegedly escorted Rowell to a restraint chair from the detention center's booking area.

The lawsuit alleges the decision to move Rowell to the restraint chair was unjustifiable.

"As defendants West and Slay escorted decedent into the hallway toward the restraint chair, without provocation or justification, defendant West forcibly handled decedent by pushing him and/or causing or allowing him to fall, causing him to suffer serious injuries which ultimately resulted in his death," the lawsuit said.

Attorneys for the estate, James A. McAuliff and Stanley Monroe, both of Tulsa, said the conduct "must be characterized as exhibiting deliberate indifference to the Constitutional rights" of Rowell. The action deprived him of his constitutional civil liberties, they said.

The lawsuit claims West's acts caused Rowell to suffer damage and warrants the imposition of exemplary damages to be proven at trial and and determined by a jury.

The lawsuit said Slay's failure to prevent West from forcing Rowell to the restraint chair followed by his use of excessive force resulted in a violation of Rowell's civil rights.

Also named in the lawsuit are Lacy Rossen, the supervisor on duty at the time of the incident, and Loyd Bickel, who was administrator at the detention center at the time. Rossen allegedly failed to properly supervise West and Slay, the suit said.

Bickel, as a policymaker, was responsible for training detention officers and for ensuring employees complied with the constitutional rights of pretrial detainees like Rowell, the lawsuit said.

Muskogee County Commissioners are cited in the lawsuit because of "acquiescence and/or deliberate indifference" to the adequacy of training and supervising detention officers. The lawsuit alleges that resulted in "unchecked constitutional violations and other wrongful behavior to develop" throughout the detention facility.

Reach Mike Elswick at (918) 684-2954, @melswickMPhx or melswick@muskogeephoenix.com.

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