AP NEWS

Judge dismisses federal claims related to death in custody

October 29, 2019

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) — A judge has dismissed all federal claims accusing authorities of culpability in the 2016 death of an Oklahoma man detained at a county jail.

U.S. District Judge Ronald A. White granted a motion for summary judgment for Muskogee County Sheriff Rob Frazier and two other jail employees last week in separate orders, the Muskogee Phoenix reported. He said there was no constitutional violation in Marvin A. Rowell’s death.

The lawsuit alleges jailers forcibly moved Rowell into a restraint chair, causing him to fall and strike his head on a concrete floor.

Zachary Rowell, administrator of deceased’s Estate, alleged the “sheriff’s officers, without provocation or justification, negligently injured Rowell when they pushed him ... or caused or allowed him to fall.”

The medical examiner’s report shows Rowell tested positive for ethanol and THC, and a toxicology report revealed elevated blood alcohol levels.

James A. McAuliff and Stanley Monroe are lawyers representing Rowell’s estate. They said he was deprived of his federal civil rights. They named three jail employees, the sheriff and the board of county commissioners as defendants.

“Marvin suffered severe injury, did not seem to present a severe security problem and was not actively resisting,” White notes in the order. “Nevertheless, the court finds no constitutional violation simply because the force used appears to be de minimis.”

White wrote in an order, granting motion for summary judgment filed by jail employee Dakota West.

Federal claims against the Muskogee County Board of Commissioners were also dismissed.

White remanded a pending state claim against the commissioner’s board back to state court.

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Information from: Muskogee Phoenix, http://www.muskogeephoenix.com