Oklahoma County jail lawsuit alleges use of excessive force against a naked female

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The Oklahoma County jail trust and county commissioners are being blamed in a new jail lawsuit for injuries to an inmate during a confrontation with a detention officer two years ago.

Jazmine Monay Miller at the time was naked and unarmed in the shower, according to the lawsuit.

She suffered both physical injuries and emotional and mental distress when a jail lieutenant punched, kneed and pepper sprayed her on Aug. 6, 2020, her attorneys said. They are alleging the detention officer used excessive force in violation of her constitutional rights.

"Ms. Miller was not actively resisting," they said in the lawsuit. "She was, at most, passively resisting a command that she return to her cell."

The lawsuit was filed Friday in Oklahoma City federal court.

Murder charge filed in fatal beating at the Oklahoma County jail

The Oklahoma County jail in Oklahoma City is shown on May 11.
The Oklahoma County jail in Oklahoma City is shown on May 11.

Also Friday, inmate Alfred Lavelle Means, 54, was charged with first-degree murder over a fatal jail beating.

Means is accused of deliberately injuring his cellmate, Shawn Michael Slavens, on June 25. The cellmate died at a hospital of head injuries July 11.

"He admitted to hitting and kicking inmate Slavens," a jail investigator reported in an affidavit. "He stated that Slavens 'aggressed' him first and he defended himself."

Slavens, 46, was placed in the cell on the jail's mental health floor at 2:53 a.m. June 25 after being arrested for indecent exposure in Oklahoma City. Fifteen minutes later, Means called a jail camera operator to report he had "just had a fight with my cellie" and hurt his hand.

Slavens was found breathing but unconscious. Means, in jail on a robbery charge, said on the way to the jail clinic that his cellmate had been trying to steal his paperwork "so I had to do what I had to do," according to the affidavit.

Means was charged in Oklahoma County District Court. His address is listed as Midwest City.

More:Oklahoma County jail has another inmate death, the 12th so far this year

Lawsuit claims previous violent incidents show Oklahoma County jail policies, practices faulty

The latest jail lawsuit points to other incidents at the 13-story facility as evidence that county commissioners and jail trustees have encouraged policies, customs and practices that can result in tragedy. The noted incidents include a deadly jail beating in January 2021.

In that incident, inmate Brad Lane was beaten in his cell by his own medical walking boot as he screamed for 40 minutes for help. A jail corporal later admitted she missed required cell checks between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2021, because she was waiting with an inmate in the jail clinic.

The officials have had "abundant opportunity" to increase funding to properly staff the jail and address its systemic deficiencies, attorneys Cameron Spradling and Daniel Smolen said in the lawsuit. Their "failure to do so has resulted in injury to multiple detainees, including Ms. Miller."

The trust has overseen operation of the jail since July 1, 2020. County commissioners have authority over the building itself.

More:Oklahoma County to pay $1.1M to settle lawsuit over 2017 death of jail inmate

The jail lieutenant, Steven Blake Brewer, 32, resigned and was charged with assault and battery over the incident with the naked inmate. He is still awaiting trial in the misdemeanor case.

Miller, 27, was in jail on assault charges at the time of the confrontation. She later served time in prison on the cases and remains on probation.

Brewer became involved when Miller refused a female officer's command to return to her cell, an investigation found.

"Lt. Brewer delivered several punches to the face and body of the inmate as she was unclothed inside of a shower stall. During the confrontation ... Lt. Brewer applied a knee strike to the inmate and also used O.C. spray on her," the investigator reported in an affidavit.

"Lt. Brewer had several options but instead created a situation that put himself, the inmate and other officers in jeopardy. By his actions he escalated the use of force in manner that was deemed unreasonable."

His attorney, Mike Johnson, said the jail surveillance video does not show excessive force.

"In the jail, you ask them, you tell them, you make them. This is a jail, not the Hilton. The rules are different. Inmates don't run the jail.

Brewer, of Norman, is accused in a second misdemeanor case of assaulting a male inmate in 2019.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma County jail lawsuit alleges excessive force on naked inmate