Beaten juvenile's kin plan to sue county

By Devona Walker Modified: April 18, 2008 at 1:54 pm •  Published: April 18, 2008
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Family members of a 15-year-old boy who was beaten while in custody at the Oklahoma County Juvenile Detention Center last week said Thursday they are filing a lawsuit against the facility.

Tayzion Smith was booked into the juvenile detention center a little more than a week ago for allegedly possessing stolen goods. His mother, Tamika Colbert, visited him April 11 and noticed bruises.

She requested medical attention for him and asked if he could be separated for his own protection. She visited him the following day, and there was more bruising.

"On Sunday, I got a phone call from the hospital, and they told me my son was in intensive care,” Colbert said. "His sinus bone was crushed. He has a crack in his skull, and it is allowing in air. He's fighting for his life.”

In a tort notice given to the defendants in the case, Colbert's attorneys claim Oklahoma County detention officers "knowingly and recklessly” caused the boy's injuries. They claim they failed to provide protection for Smith, even though they were aware that he was at risk.

"Without my son, I really can't function. That's my only baby,” Colbert said, fighting back tears.

County commissioners provide oversight for the detention center.

They will not comment on the specifics of the case, but did say the sheriff's department has been asked to investigate.

There is reportedly ample surveillance footage that will shed light on who attacked Trayzion Smith and how it happened.

"We should be able to review it, and in the not too distant future, we will be able to comment on what happened,” said County Commissioner Ray Vaughn.

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