Kessee family

 Michael Washington (right) the uncle of a man who died recently in the Cleveland County jail tells members of the press he believes his nephew should have received mental health treatment rather than being arrested. To the left of Washington is Patridia Thompson, grandmother of the deceased.

Joy Hampton / The Transcript

NORMAN, Okla. — Family members say a man who was found unresponsive in a cell at the Cleveland County jail on Jan. 16, had mental health issues and didn’t receive appropriate care.

The Norman Police Department released video footage of the arrest of Marconia Kessee on Tuesday. Kessee died about two hours after his arrest and jail booking by Norman police. He turned 35 on Jan. 15, one day prior to his death.

Kessee’s uncle, Michael Washington said his nephew had been treated at Griffin Memorial Hospital many times and should have been taken to an appropriate care facility rather than being arrested.

As a matter of routine, police officials are conducting an internal review of police actions and county officials have called in the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to review Kessee’s treatment at the county jail.

On Jan. 16, Norman police officers responded to a report of a disturbance inside the waiting area of the Norman Regional Hospital, 901 N. Porter Ave., at about 7:30 p.m., Public Safety Information Officer Sarah Jensen said during a press conference Tuesday.

Kessee had come to the hospital emergency room complaining of a headache. After examination and release, he refused to leave, and hospital security called for assistance. When Norman police arrived at the hospital, they helped Kessee into a wheelchair and escorted him outside.

“Once outside, two NPD officers attempt to persuade Kessee to seek shelter at the Salvation Army located nearby,” Jensen said. “Despite repeated attempts, Kessee refused to leave hospital property.”

Hospital security then cited Kessee for trespassing, and he was taken into custody by two NPD officers who transported him to the Cleveland County jail.

“Prior to transport, Kessee was determined to be fit for incarceration by a hospital physician,” Jensen said.

Body camera video released Tuesday shows the officers’ contact with Kessee.

When Kessee was found unresponsive two hours after incarceration, detention staff called 911, with Norman Fire Department and EMSStat responding. Kessee was transported by EMSStat back to Norman Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

“Protocol following an incident of this nature includes a review of the body camera footage of the department’s interactions with Kessee,” Jensen said. “Following the review of the video, it generally appears that the officers followed basic protocol. There is no indication at this time that the actions of the two officers contributed to the death of Kessee.”

The department is conducting an administrative review of the actions and “disparaging comments made by the two officers,” Jensen said.

Under NPD policy, the officers have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the internal investigation. Master Police Officer Kyle Canaan has been with NPD since Oct. 9, 2009, and Officer Daniel Brown has been with NPD since Oct. 4, 2013.

“I would like to offer the Norman Police Department’s sincere condolences to the Kessee family,” Norman Police Chief Keith Humphrey said. “The Norman Police Department is committed to a thorough investigation regarding the actions of our officers in regards to this incident. However, there’s no indication at this time that the actions of the officers contributed to the death of Mr. Kessee.”

Humphrey said after reviewing the body cam video, he is concerned that the officers did not act in a manner consistent with the city’s community policing initiatives due to disparaging comments made to Kessee. Jensen said the internal investigation is ongoing.

After Kessee’s death, Cleveland County Sheriff Todd Gibson called in the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to do an independent investigation.

“As a matter of routine, we have reached out to OSBI to review the incident,” Gibson said. “We are committed to being transparent and are cooperating fully with their review.”

County officials are not required to request OSBI assistance, but many sheriff’s offices do routinely ask for their help to ensure an independent investigation.

Kessee had a previous criminal record spanning several years, including possession of a controlled dangerous substance and assault with a dangerous weapon, both in Oklahoma County. He was incarcerated by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections for the felony assault conviction Jan. 31, 2012, and released July 1, 2016.

According to Oklahoma City Municipal Court records, Kessee was arrested for trespassing by Oklahoma City police on Dec. 17, 2016, Jan. 29, 2017, and March 5, 2017, and has a current bench warrant issued Jan. 4 in OKC related to a disturbing the peace charge.

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