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Charlton Chrisman
Two Oklahoma County Jail detention officers were charged Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, with assault and battery. (William W. Savage III)

The April death of an inmate in Oklahoma County Jail has resulted in assault and battery charges against two jail detention officers who shot the man with pepper ball guns. Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater filed felony assault and battery charges against Colton Ray and Brian Harrison this afternoon, nearly eight months after Charlton Chrisman died in the Oklahoma County Jail.

“The finding of the medical examiner was that the cause of death was actually from a cardiac event with a significant factor being acute methamphetamine intoxication,” Prater said. “It was unnecessary and excessive use of force. That’s what the allegations are, and that’s why charges have been filed.”

At the time, Chrisman was the 20th inmate to die in the jail since Jan. 1, 2016, according to The Oklahoman.

The paper reported on April 22 — three days after Chrisman’s death — that five detention officers had been reassigned as a result of the incident.

Ray and Harrison were recorded on video shooting Chrisman with pepper ball guns inside and outside of his cell, according to an affidavit from Meghan Bowman of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation:

A review of the video camera footage showed S.E.R.T. team members Colton Ray and Brian Harrison arrived at Chrisman’s cell with pepper ball guns. Shortly after arriving, Chrisman’s cell door was opened, and Ray and Harrison immediately shot Chrisman with the pepper ball guns. Chrisman turned to go down the hall, and Ray and Harrison followed Chrisman continuing to shoot Chrisman with the pepper balls.

In an interview with Ray, Ray admitted to shooting Chrisman with pepper balls as soon as the (sic) Chrisman’s cell door was opened. Ray also admitted to walking up and shooting Chrisman at close range with a pepper ball as fellow S.E.R.T. members attempted to physically restrain Chrisman.

In an interview with Harrison, Harrison admitted to shooting Chrisman with pepper balls as soon as the door was opened.

S.E.R.T. stands for Special Emergency Response Team.

Chrisman was in jail after crashing his truck into the emergency room area of Deaconess Hospital in northwest Oklahoma City, according to Nolan Clay’s story in The Oklahoman.

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William W. Savage III (Tres) holds a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma. He covered two sessions of the Oklahoma Legislature for eCapitol.net before working in health care for six years. He is a nationally certified Mental Health First Aid instructor.