Former Oklahoma County Jailer Charged In Connection With Inmate Death

Tuesday, May 17th 2022, 9:17 pm


A now former Oklahoma County detention officer is charged in connection with the death of an inmate found hanging in his cell. 

The jailer was fired in December, but that charge was just filed. 

On Christmas day last year, jailer Jesse Knight was working a twelve-hour shift. Records show he was expected to conduct welfare checks but never did. 

He was assigned to the 12th floor of the jail where inmate Gabriel Yalartai was being housed. 

Because Yalartai was being held in a mental health unit, court documents say he was supposed to be checked every half hour--a visual inspection to observe movement and breathing. 

But investigators said records show that didn't happen. Instead, they said surveillance footage showed Kight left his assigned post at midnight December 26, then returned three hours later, "missing sight checks during his absence." 

The affidavit said he left again, then returned thirty minutes later at 3:45 a.m. Then, while attempting to serve breakfast, at 4:21 a.m. investigators said Kight found the inmate "with known declining health issues" hanging dead from an air vent. 

The court filing said records also show after Kight discovered Yalartai he "forged the log books by hand writing in the sight checks which had not occurred." 

In a statement Detention Center CEO Greg Williams said they are entrusted with the care of the detainees, and when that trust is broken, they would work to hold people accountable.