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Oklahoma County to pay $275,000 to former inmate

Dionne McKinney, who was beaten up by detention officers at the Oklahoma County jail, will receive a lump-sum payment. The settlement between McKinney, the county and Sheriff John Whetsel was agreed to in lieu of punitive damages last December.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Published: January 15, 2013
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Whetsel could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, and his attorney declined to comment. Timmons was also unavailable for comment.

A spokesman for Whetsel said use-of-force incidents at the jail have been reduced significantly — from hundreds to dozens each year — since the sheriff's office began making major operational reforms at the jail.

The reforms, which were spurred by a U.S. Department of Justice report in 2007, include increased surveillance cameras and staffing, as well as the installation of a new panel that reviews such incidents, sheriff's office spokesman Mark Myers said.

“Since we installed the cameras, acts of violence have decreased by 90 percent, and we started installing them in 2010,” Myers said. “Also in the past 10 years our training has changed tremendously in regards to use of force.”

Oklahoma County Treasurer Butch Freeman said county property owners will be liable for the $275,000, which will be paid in a lump sum out of the employee retirement fund and then replaced with ad valorem taxes over the next three years.

The owner of a $150,000 home might pay a nickel extra in taxes each year for three years to cover the settlement amount, he said.

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