Two former Oklahoma County jailers have been charged with assault after an investigation into the death of an inmate who was repeatedly shot by pepper balls.
Colton Ray, 26, and Brian Harrison, 33, were charged Thursday with felony assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
At the time of the April incident, both were assigned to a special reaction team in the jail, records show.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said he found the defendants’ actions were “without justifiable or excusable cause” when they shot the inmate with pepper ball guns.
Ray, a staff sergeant, resigned Aug. 8. He was hired in 2013.
Harrison, a detention officer, was fired Thursday after being charged. He was hired in 2012.
Both had been reassigned to not have contact with inmates immediately following the incident, a jail spokesman said.
The victim, Charlton Cash Chrisman, 40, of Yukon, died April 19 after two altercations with detention officers inside the jail.
The first altercation began after Chrisman flooded his cell by tearing off a sprinkler head. The special reaction team then was contacted to extract him after a piece of metal was spotted inside the cell.
Ray and Harrison arrived at Chrisman’s cell with pepper ball guns, a special agent with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation reported in a court affidavit.
“Shortly after arriving, Chrisman’s cell door was opened and Ray and Harrison immediately shot Chrisman with the pepper ball guns,” the agent reported.
Chrisman then turned to go down the hall and the officers followed, continuing to shoot the victim with the pepper balls, according to the affidavit.
In interviews, both admitted to shooting the victim as soon as the door opened, the agent reported. Ray also admitted to shooting Chrisman at close range as other officers attempted to physically restrain him, according to the affidavit.
One witness also overheard a detention officer tell the special reaction team members to “not talk to Chrisman, just shoot him,” the agent reported.
Chrisman died at a hospital, according to the affidavit.
The probable cause of death is listed on the autopsy report as “agitated delirium due to acute methamphetamine intoxication.” A contributing factor in the death was “multiple pepper ball injuries.” The manner of death is listed as unknown.
The pathologist who did the autopsy found 14 to 16 circular contusions on the body consistent with pepper ball gun injuries. Chrisman also had multiple abrasions and contusions on his forehead, cheeks, nose, arms, legs and back, according to the autopsy report.
Chrisman had a history of drug use and mental health issues, records show. He had been jailed the day before after crashing his pickup into the emergency room waiting area of an Oklahoma City hospital, police reported.
Last week, the inmate’s estate filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the county, Ray, Harrison, Sheriff P.D. Taylor and others.