New video evidence released Thursday shows a man pleading for help in the Ottawa County Jail before dying at a hospital an hour later.
“The audio in this case is what’s so explosive and horrific,” said Dan Smolen, the attorney representing the family of Terral Ellis.
On Oct. 10, 2015 26-year-old Ellis shook his grandfather’s hand before entering the Ottawa County Jail to serve time for a DUI warrant.
Twelve days after that handshake, Ellis would be wheeled out in a stretcher before dying at a nearby hospital.
“When someone tortures someone to death, there needs to be accountability,” said Dan Smolen
“And that’s what happened in this case, you believe?” asked Maureen Wurtz, with KTUL.
“Yeah, I think that’s what happened to Terral Ellis. It’s no question once you watch the video,” said Smolen.
The video Smolen is talking about is part of an ongoing wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Ellis.
There are 18 different video clips that show the last 20 hours of Ellis’s life at the Ottawa County Jail.
“Putting it together, it took us over a year,” said Smolen.
The video clips are unique, not because of how much can been seen, but rather what can be heard.
Jail videos often do not have audio attached to them.
“This video, if had been silent, would have shown people going to the door maybe checking on Mr. Ellis, which in fact they were just berating him mocking him as he laid in that cell and died,” said Smolen.
In one video clip, the nurse is heard telling Ellis to shut up after he’d complained about his legs going numb and turning black.
“Listen to me, shut up! We’ve had EMS come over and there’s nothing wrong with you. Your legs are fine,” the nurse is heard yelling.
Other times, detention officers are heard making fun of Ellis as he calls for help.
“Oh, you paralyzed now? Okay. I’m not laughing I’m not laughing at you,” said one detention officer.
After complaining to jail staff for days, court documents show that Ellis was taken to the hospital on Oct. 22 around 2 p.m. and he died an hour later.
The medical examiner later concluded that he died from sepsis because of acute pneumonia.
“This kid needlessly died for absolutely no reason. Not some simple death, I mean he was begging for his life for 20 hours,” said Smolen. “(Sepsis) is incredible painful, what he went through was horrific.”
Smolen said lawyers representing defendants in the lawsuit want the case dismissed for various reasons, which is why the videos are now public.
Channel 8 reached out to lawyers representing all defendants on Thursday.
As of 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30, the attorney representing the sheriff’s office and county told Channel 8 she couldn’t comment due to pending litigation.
Channel 8 has not heard back from any other attorneys yet.
The next step in the case is for the judge to decide if there’s enough evidence to go to trial.
The medical examiner's report is attached here: