Questions raised after inmate died shortly after being released from Okmulgee County Jail

OKMULGEE, Okla. — The family of Larance Hill told FOX23 he died Monday after his arrest Friday, Aug. 12, for public intoxication.

Okmulgee Police Department Chief Joe Prentice told FOX23 that 67-year-old Hill walked into a woman’s home Aug. 12, 2022. According to bodycam footage, the incident occurred just after 5 p.m.

“[Hill] sat down on her couch, who she did not know, and was refusing to leave,” Prentice said.

FOX23 received bodycam footage of Hill’s arrest.

He added that Hill was arrested by Okmulgee officers without incident, and Hill was taken to Okmulgee County Jail.

“He went through the booking process,” Prentice said. “When the officer’s booking process was complete, [the officer] left.”

Bodycam footage showed that the officer left Hill at 5:32 p.m. Friday. However, official jail records indicated that Hill was not booked into the Okmulgee County Jail until 5:37 a.m. Saturday morning. The records also indicated that Hill was released exactly one minute after being booked, when he needed medical attention.

Prentice said the Okmulgee Police Department did things by the book, and Hill was going to sit inside a holding cell until he was sober.

“My understanding was he was at the jail 12 hours, which is typical whenever [police] arrest someone for public intoxication,” he said. “They are held at the jail for 12 hours to give them time to sober up, and they are released with a court date.”

He continued, “It was my understanding [that] after 12 hours, he was still too intoxicated to be released, and an ambulance was called.”

Hill’s family told FOX23 the Okmulgee County Jail staff called 911, and Hill was transported to Hillcrest Medical Center early Saturday morning after having seizures.

Hill died Monday, Aug. 15.

“Outside of my pops, and all his mistakes, people loved him. He was a good person,” said Matthew Hill, Larance’s son.

“Can’t tell you what happened in the jail,” Prentice said. “The officer, based on his training and experience, believed he was under the influence, but not to the point that it was life-threatening.”

Now, his family is left wondering what happened to Hill during the 12 hours he was in an Okmulgee County Jail cell.

FOX23 reached out to the Okmulgee County Criminal Justice Authority (OCCJA) — the agency that runs the jail — to get some answers about what could have happened in those 12 hours. FOX23 asked whether or not a nurse was on duty in the jail at the time, when a nurse responded and when staff called 911.

The OCCJA emailed a limited statement to FOX23 that said, in part, “Mr. Larance Hill was in custody based upon a municipal arrest and subsequently released from custody.”

The statement also said that the OCCJA cannot comment on any “real or perceived” medical issues for privacy reasons.

For Matthew and the rest of Hill’s family, they are left to wonder what really happened in those 12, unaccounted for hours.

Matthew told FOX23 that another family member was an inmate at the Okmulgee County Jail at the same time Hill was in custody. That family member said she saw Hill in need of medical attention hours before help was called.

“Inmates telling deputies to go check this out, and no help,” Matthew said. “[There] wasn’t even the right kind of medical nurse there to help my dad.”

Doctors told Matthew that his father had meth in his system when he died. However, Matt said his family hasn’t been able to get an autopsy or a cause of death.

“[I’m] talking about a visual autopsy,” Matthew said.

Currently, Matthew and the rest of Hill’s family are trying to get more information from the OCCJA on what happened and why no one called 911 sooner.

“We’re looking for justice that they talk about,” Matthew said. “But [there’s no] justice for my community. It’s the same stuff in Oklahoma, in California, and all around the world. We’re tired of that.”

This is a developing story.