A deadly fight that broke out Tuesday at the Oklahoma County Jail is under investigation. Jail officials said Maurice Pendleton, 36, died five hours after the altercation began.
The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office is working with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to determine what happened. Pendleton’s family believes he was murdered inside the jail.
Maurice Pendleton was booked into the Oklahoma County jail on July 11. He was accused of assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm after a felony conviction, charges that stem from a recent shooting in Midwest City. Pendleton's aunt, Regina Scott. said he was ready to face his consequences.
“We had talked to him and prayed with him,” said Scott. “My mother said just turn yourself in and he did.”
Scott said her nephew was having problems in jail before his death.
“Once he got in there, things started changing,” said Scott. “He started noticing that people were messing with him.”
Jail officials said Pendleton was in a holding area on the 8th floor when the altercation, involving several other inmates, broke out Tuesday afternoon. Pendleton was beaten during the fight and taken to the medical unit. He was then transported by paramedics to a hospital where he passed away around 5 p.m. Tuesday evening.
“Should have been protected from members that were in there or inmates in the jail cell that were violent,” said Scott.
According to court papers filed after the shooting in Midwest City, a witness heard Pendleton identify himself as a Hoover gang member.
The sheriff's office is investigating whether the jail altercation was gang-related.
“That is part of the investigation,” said Mark Opgrande, Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office. “To find out what their affiliations are. What you do is find out their affiliations, find out if there are separation orders between it. Some individuals when they come in have to stay away from certain people and certain areas.”
Court records indicate Pendleton appeared for an arraignment Tuesday morning and plead not guilty. His family said Pendleton was supposed to be released from jail on Wednesday.
Once the death investigation is complete, it will be turned over to the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office for review.