A punch to the face inside an Edmond bar led to a manslaughter charge after the victim — who was seriously ill before the skirmish — died days later.
Bruce Walter Garrison, 63, faces a first-degree manslaughter charge in Oklahoma County District Court.
The victim, Robert Hirsch, 47, died Sept. 12 at OU Medical Center after the ventilator keeping him alive was removed. He suffered a large subdural hematoma — bleeding near the brain — from the blow, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Conviction could bring life sentence
Had Hirsch not died, Garrison would be facing a misdemeanor assault and battery charge. Instead, if convicted, he would face four years to life in prison.
Garrison was booked into the Oklahoma County jail but released late Wednesday on $10,000 bail.
The incident occurred Sept. 6 at Majors, 70 E 15.
Hirsch reportedly sat in the seat Garrison had been using at the bar. The two spoke briefly and Garrison is seen on surveillance video slightly pushing and pulling Hirsch before striking him once in the face with his right hand and pushing him with his left, according to the affidavit.
Hirsch fell into the man sitting on his left but never hit the ground, the affidavit states. He was inside the bar for a total of eight minutes.
The Oklahoma County district attorney’s office did not release the video.
A taxi driver called 911 after Hirsch was unable to get out of the cab. He was taken to OU Medical Center, where he underwent an emergency craniotomy to remove a section of his skull.
Hirsch was sedated and put on a ventilator. A trauma surgeon told Hirsch’s brother that the injury was compounded by a cirrhotic liver. Hirsch was on a transplant list at the time of his death.
Hirsch died of blunt force trauma to the head due to assault, according to the state medical examiner’s report. The death was ruled a homicide.
In a police interview, Garrison said he was playing pool with a friend and had left his belongings at the bar seat where Hirsch sat. After asking him to move, Hirsch refused and said, “Nobody can beat me in this bar.”
“I lost my temper and smacked him one time,” Garrison told officers. “I didn’t hit him that hard.”
Garrison admitted to officers that Hirsch did not hit him or attempt to defend himself but also knew nothing of Hirsch’s medical problems.
Doctor said cirrhosis of liver killed man
The doctor who treated Hirsch at the hospital, William S. Havron III, told officers that Hirsch was going to “die soon no matter what,” according to the affidavit.
Hirsch was suffering from end-stage liver failure, the doctor told police.
“His cirrhosis is what killed him,” he said.
Bob Wyatt, Garrison’s attorney, said he has not yet been provided any information from the district attorney.
“Our position is that he did not cause the death of Robert Hirsch,” he said.
Wyatt said Garrison will plead not guilty to the charge.
A woman who answered the phone at Garrison’s home declined to comment.