MIAMI – Current Ottawa County Sheriff Jeremy Floyd has received numerous threats, including death, after the news broke about an alleged wrongful death case at the jail in Miami that occurred on the previous sheriff’s watch.
While Floyd could not comment specifically on a lawsuit currently in the court system Friday, he did say, “I will say that it is frustrating for us just for the simple fact that we are getting blamed for something that took place back in 2015. But we are working through it and we want people to know that we are doing everything we are supposed to be doing to prevent anything like that from happening in the future.”
The story has gained international attention and has been published as far away as Washington, New York and even New Zealand.
In the suit that was originally filed in 2017, Terral Ellis Jr.’s estate alleges that the staff at the Ottawa County jail repeatedly ignored and disregarded Ellis’ claims that he was ill and in pain.
He was later found unconscious and taken to the hospital where he died of pneumonia and sepsis on Oct. 22, 2015, at the age of 26, the state medical examiner ruled.
Ellis’ repeated pleas for help allegedly went on for several days and were captured on the jail’s surveillance system video.
The release of that video has prompted intense reactions and public outrage. Those named in the suit include jail staff, the jail’s former nurse, the current sheriff, the former sheriff, and more. The damages sought have not been released.
According to court records, Ellis was in the jail after turning himself in on an outstanding warrant for a DUI. He was reportedly in good health when he arrived on Oct. 10, but died 12 days later.
Attorney Ambre Gooch of Oklahoma City, who is representing the county, did not return a request for an interview prior to deadline, but she told online news outlet The Frontier that what happened in 2015 is not the current sheriff’s responsibility.
Terry Durborow was sheriff in 2015. Floyd wasn’t elected until 2016.
According to reports, the videos were edited from hundreds of hours of footage and appear to show jailers only feet away from the cell where Ellis was being held ignoring his pleas for help. Then jail nurse Theresa Horn reportedly accused Ellis of faking illness in the footage that was given to the lawyers for Ellis’ estate.
Lawyers for the county had previously filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying while detention officers acknowledge jail policy violations, they did not intentionally deny Ellis medical care. In court documents, Horn’s lawyers state that the nurse didn’t realize the seriousness of his condition.
Also named a defendant in the lawsuit, Integris Miami EMS is being accused of contributing to Ellis’ death because they allegedly failed to transport him to the hospital.
Lawyers for Integris reportedly responded that jail staff told the paramedics Ellis would be placed in view of the guard’s desk and checked on every 15 minutes. If his condition changed they were to notify EMS again.
A motion filed to dismiss the lawsuit includes Integris’ lawyers stating that the “evidence is overwhelming” that Ellis’ condition deteriorated, but jail staff did not notify EMS.
Horn’s lawyers stated in court records that Horn’s behavior was regrettable, but that she didn’t disregard Ellis’ condition intentionally.