Michael Edwin Smith, 50, of Muskogee is lying in a bed, unable to walk. But he wasn’t always paralyzed. It wasn’t until a stint in the Muskogee County Jail that he became a quadriplegic, he alleges in a federal lawsuit filed yesterday against the county, former Sheriff Charles Pearson, current Sheriff Rob Frazier and the jail’s healthcare provider.
Smith, who was treated in 2012 for aggressive prostate cancer, was arrested on March 12 of last year for allegedly writing a bogus check. When he was incarcerated at the jail, the lawsuit states, Smith began feeling pain in his back and chest, numbness and a frostbite-like feeling that spread from his chest to his feet. He alleges that he informed the jailers of his history and current condition, but they accused him of “faking it” and refused him medical treatment.
He was forced, the suit alleges, to “wallow” in his own feces and urine after jailers refused to help him. When he was released in April 2016, he was hospitalized for a month, during which doctors told him his paralysis could have been prevented if he had received proper care when he first requested it.
He is asking for damages in excess of $75,000.
“That’s not true,” Pearson said today. “We offered him medical care and he refused it multiple times. We documented all of it.”
Smith’s attorney, Lowell Howe, disagrees.
“It does not make sense that my client would refuse emergency medical attention that he desperately needed and was deprived of by the jail and medical staff,” he said. “The facts remain that before my client was taken into custody he could walk and when he was released he left on a stretcher to the hospital and was paralyzed — and he’s been permanently paralyzed since.”
Frazier said that since the events happened before he was elected, he is unfamiliar with the specifics of the case and is now reviewing them.
Smith is now permanently paralyzed from the chest down.