2 minute read

OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — On the morning after Christmas Day a detainee in the Oklahoma County Detention Center or Jail was discovered to have died by suicide.

And, a detention officer that was supposed to do a site check on the detainee during that time has been fired for failing to do so.

The firing may not be the end of it for the detention officer who could face charges for the failure.

“Preliminary indications of misconduct in this case may lead to charges against the detention officer,” said Greg Williams, CEO of the Oklahoma County Detention Center. “Staff must and will be held accountable for not following policies and procedures.”

Christmas suicide

Gabriel Yalartai (D.O.B. 03/10/1981) booking photo from December 8. (Oklahoma County Detention Center photo)

Oklahoma County Detention Center (OCDC) spokesperson Mark Opgrande said, “At 4:20 Sunday morning, detainee Gabriel Yalartai (D.O.B. 03/10/81) was discovered in his cell by a detention office who immediately began CPR on what appears to be an attempted suicide.”

The OCDC statement said that the charge nurse was called to the cell where she determined that Yalartai had died.

OCDC special investigators immediately began an investigation of the scene and the circumstances of the death.

Investigators found that the detention officer that was supposed to have been doing site checks on Yalartai during his shift had not done so.

Investigators found that the last contact jail staff had with Yalartai was at 4:55 p.m. on Saturday evening (Christmas Day) meaning that there had been almost a 12-hour period where no one had checked on Yalartai’s welfare.

Yalartai’s body is now with the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s office. It is not known when a official cause of death will be determined by the office.

Troubled jail

The death is by some counts the 13th of the year in the biggest jail in the state that has had a troubled past for at least the last 20 years.

Recent studies by a committee of the Jail Trust that now runs the OCDC have determined that the 13-story design itself is so problematic that the best solution is to build a new jail on a new site that is two stories high at the most.

Not only have there been deaths of people booked into the OCDC but there have been multiple complaints of poor conditions even for a jail with bed bug infestations and plumbing problems.

Jail administrators have reported that they are currently spraying for bed bugs monthly and that many of the plumbing problems were fixed with heavy investments of COVID relief funds from the federal government handed off by the Oklahoma County Commissioners.

Last Updated December 28, 2021, 7:45 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor