Thursday, a judge ordered the Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center to release internal security footage related to Ronald Given, an inmate who died days after he was booked in the jail in Jan. 2019.
Pottawatomie County District Judge John Canavan Jr. told the jail’s attorney that the footage “definitely” falls under the state’s open records act. He ordered the trust that manages the jail to give the footage to the Frontier Media Group and reporter Kassie McClung, who requested the footage.
News 9 also requested the footage and was denied.
“I was really relieved to hear the judge acknowledge that these records in this case are public records,” McClung said after the ruling. “The public deserves to know what happened to Ron (Given) in that jail. We know that he was in the middle of a mental health crisis.”
Wellon Poe, the attorney for the Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center Jail Trust, argued in court that the footage should not be considered an open record.
Pottawatomie County District Judge John Canavan Jr. disagreed and said the footage “definitely comes under the Open Records Act,” and ordered the jail to release it to McClung.
Poe declined to comment after the ruling.
Eva Kopaddy, Given’s aunt, celebrated the order.
“I want the truth to come out, and it's going to now,” Kopaddy said.
Given was hospitalized within hours of being booked into the jail in Jan. 2019 and died 10 days later. Prior to being booked in the jail, Shawnee police officers tried to find Given space inside a behavioral health facility, but none were available in the state. Given, at the time, was experiencing a mental health crisis.
The state medical examiner qualified the death as a homicide. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation cleared the jail staff of any wrongdoing and did not recommend charges, according to the local district attorney, Allan Grubb, marking the end of the criminal investigation.
Kopaddy filed a lawsuit against the jail alleging staff kneeled on Given’s neck until he was unconscious.
“It's just the most horrible, inhumane thing that another human can do to somebody,” she said.
Following Thursday’s ruling, News 9 resubmitted an open records request for the video related to Given’s January booking.