Wrongful death lawsuit filed against McCurtain Co. officials
McCURTAIN COUNTY, Okla. (KSLA) - Barbara Barrick, the widow of a man who was killed while in the custody of McCurtain County Sheriff’s deputies, filed a wrongful death civil rights lawsuit against the McCurtain County Board of County Commissioners, McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy, several sheriff’s deputies and other parties.
A news conference was held Thursday, April 20 to announce the filing of the lawsuit.
“If any of you have seen today’s McCurtain County Gazette, you know they talked about releasing the full three hours of audio from the meeting. The story right next to it is Barrick information being uncovered due to their lawsuit request. We’ve had our new information for nine days. We didn’t want to file a willy-nilly lawsuit over the last year without some meat in it,” said attorney Mitchell Garrett, who is representing the Barrick family.
“Now that we have more information, because the two are linked, things that we think about the treatment of Native Americans, the treatment of African Americans. The community has had division in it for quite some time, so for the Band-Aid to be ripped off and for us to be able to see under the camel’s tent, it’s amazed all of us.”
GRAPHIC: RAW BODYCAM VIDEO
The complaint alleges that McCurtain County sheriff’s deputies found 45-year-old Bobby Barrick beaten and bound by a group of vigilantes at a convenience store March 13, 2022.
The lawsuit states that deputies handcuffed Barrick and that, while he was restrained, unreasonable force was used, including the use of tasers. As deputies were removing him from the back of the vehicle, they allegedly were instructed to turn off their body-worn cameras.
While Barrick was restrained in handcuffs on the ground, deputies and a game warden with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife reportedly laid on top of him. It was determined he was no longer breathing and had no pulse. Barrick then had a seizure and was transported to McCurtain Memorial Hospital. He was placed on a ventilator and transported to Paris Regional Medical Center for additional treatment.
He died five days later.
Much of the controversy surrounding the McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office and county commissioners stems from public records requests made by reporters with the McCurtain County Gazette regarding Barrick’s death. These requests were subsequently delayed or denied outright by McCurtain County officials. Bruce Willingham, publisher of the Gazette, left a recording device in a meeting between the sheriff and county commissioners. The recording picked up a wide range of outrageous comments which have since become national news.
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