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The latest video footage shared by the Cleveland County jail and Cleveland County Sheriff’s Department in Oklahoma shows the callousness of police officers toward a man suffering from mental illness who later died in custody. As per police records, on Jan. 16, 2018, Marconia Kessee (35) was arrested by Master Police Officer Kyle Canaan and Officer Daniel Brown for trespassing at Norman Regional Hospital. According to the officers, Kessee was arrested on grounds of his refusal to leave the hospital post his treatment. Found to be medically fit for incarceration by the doctors, Kessee, however, died two hours later in a cell at the F. DeWayne Beggs Detention Center.
Despite the clear footage showing the officers denying any help to the patient, Norman Police Chief Keith Humphrey claimed that the two officers involved ‘had nothing to do’ with the death of the inmate. Pending the internal investigation, the two officers involved in the incident were placed on administrative leave.
Proof of police brutality
As per the video, the two officers told Kessee that they need to take him outside and he must leave the hospital premises. While initially they persuaded Kessee to go to the Salvation Army after his release from the hospital, they soon turned hostile. In the video, Kessee could be seen having difficulty in moving wand how he is put on a wheelchair by the two officers. It is also clear how the officers repeatedly asked him to stop playing games, put his shoes on and find his own way to the Salvation Army.
The video also showed the officers refusing to give Kessee a ride to the Salvation Army across the street upon which Kessee could be seen trying to stand up when he stumbled and fell down. Though Kessee tried explaining to the officers that he came to the hospital for help, the officers mocked him by telling him to “stop with the show” and terming his actions as an attempt to “get back in the hospital”.
Did Kessee deserve jail or crisis center?
According to the victim’s uncle, Michael Washington, Kessee went to the hospital to get cured of headache but he failed to receive appropriate mental or physical assessment, and was instead taken to jail and placed in a padded cell. Since his condition was bad, he hurt himself inside the jail. He was found unresponsive and pronounced dead on reaching the hospital. As per Washington, the doctors and the hospital staff are partly responsible for his nephew’s tragic death.
Washington said that instead of sending Kessee to jail, he should have been sent to a crisis center. On the night of the incident, the police responded to three calls – two prior to Kessee’s call and one from the detention center where Kessee was sent. In one of the calls, a caller from the hospital could be heard referring to a patient in the waiting room as someone who is “wigged out and need assistance”. He added that while ‘wigging out’ clearly indicated Kessee’s incapacity to understand his immediate environment and the situation, he should have been sent to a crisis center.
Get help now
With 1.2 million mentally ill individuals incarcerated every year in the United States, there is a need to find better options for such individuals. Instead of sending them to jails, the authorities should consider sending them to professional rehab centers, mental health courts or peer-run crisis respite models. In addition to using diversion programs to help those with mental health or substance use problems, there is also a need for systematic changes in access to mental health care, keeping mentally ill out of prisons, and providing appropriate care to such individuals through community-based services and adequate insurance coverage.
At the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline, we understand that seeking professional treatment for mental illnesses is paramount for a healthy and productive life. Our trained counselors at the 247 Mental Health Helpline can answer all your questions about mental health conditions and assist you or your loved one set up a clinical appointment for a consultation. For those in crisis, reach out to us at our 24/7 mental rehab helpline (855) 653-8178 or through online chat and let us help you find the finest rehab centers near you.