TULSA, Okla. – A federal jury took two and a half hours to decide the case involving the death of a Miami man while in the Ottawa County jail.
The jury ruled against Former Ottawa County Sheriff Terry Durburow, in his official capacity, and awarded the family of Terral Ellis, Jr. $33 million in compensatory damages.
Ellis, 26, of Miami, died on Oct. 22, 2015, of sepsis and pneumonia.
“The judgment is against the Ottawa County Sheriff’s office in its official capacity not against Durburow in his individual capacity, said Dan Smolen, attorney for the Ellis estate.
“He (Ellis) died a slow tormenting death over several days that was caught on a surveillance camera,” Smolen said.
The Ellis family is pleased with and humbled by the jury’s verdict. The family waited years for their day in court. Terral Ellis was essentially tortured to death while housed in the Ottawa County Jail. With a modicum of humane treatment, his suffering and death were eminently preventable. The family is hopeful that the trial and $33 million verdict will spark long overdue reforms of the broken healthcare delivery systems in our county jails. Funds recovered by the Estate will be used to care for Terral’s son, who was just four years old when Terral tragically died.Dan Smolen, attorney for the Ellis estate
At the center of the eight-day trial was retired nurse Theresa Jo Horn’s actions.
Horn testified on Friday for most of the day. Her trial testimony was littered with “I don’t know” and “I can’t recall” when asked questions by Smolen.
Video clips shown to the jury showed Horn, a 32-year career nurse, trial testimony was opposite of her actions depicted in the numerous video clips.
The video clips showed Horn repeatedly cursing at Ellis, saying she was tired of dealing with him.
Trial testimony shows Horn failed to take Ellis’s vitals which would have taken 15 to 20 minutes but instead berated the dying man.
Video clips showed Horn telling Ellis that if he continued to complain about his symptoms, she would chain him to the floor. Ellis was lying on a urine-soaked pad before staff removed it leaving him on the concrete floor, trial testimony showed.
This is a developing story and digital reporter Sheila Stogsdill will bring you more information as soon as it’s available.