Lawsuit claims man’s death in Oakland County Jail was avoidable

Terrance Vaughn was denied medical assistance until it was too late, suit says

New video footage from inside the Oakland County Jail captured disturbing footage of a man in distress before he died.

PONTIAC, Mich. – New video footage from inside the Oakland County Jail captured disturbing footage of a man in distress before he died.

Terrance Vaughn was taken into custody during a traffic stop. His family said he should have been taken to jail, but to a hospital.

“I feel like he didn’t deserve that whatsoever,” said Jada Vaughn. “He should still be here to be with his family and see his grand kids. He should still be around for that.”

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Jada Vaughn said her father’s story is a tough one to tell. She said the 43-year-old was the glue that held the Pontiac family together, but she also has to deal with the fact that her father swallowed crack cocaine when he was stopped by Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies for rolling through a stop sign in Pontiac in October 2018.

“That was wrong on his part,” Jada Vaughn said.

Video from the traffic stop captured deputies looking in Terrance Vaughn’s mouth before taking him to the Oakland County Jail.

The family filed a civil rights lawsuit against the deputies, the jail staff and Oakland County based on what happened next.

The family alleges Vaughn was booked that night without a medical evaluation just after 11 p.m.

Video from inside the jail shows Vaughn in distress.

The lawsuit claims he was then taken to the jail clinic and at about 4 a.m. he had a seizure. At 4:41 a.m., he was pronounced dead at McLaren Hospital.

“They should have taken him to the hospital,” Jada Vaughn said.

Gary Felty, the attorney for the family, said the video is the key. He said that during the traffic stop, deputies can be acknowledging Vaughn swallowed drugs.

“It is difficult in the audio,” Felty said. “But you can hear them.”

Felty and the family said that deputies had a duty to call an ambulance to get Vaughn to the hospital.

“The decision was made to take him to the jail,” Felty said.

Oakland County Sheriff’s officials said the loss of life is tragic, but its deputies did nothing wrong and that Vaughn denied swallowing drugs. Officials said deputies handed Vaughn over to medical staff contracted by the county to care for detainees and it was their call whether or not to take him to the hospital.

“It spoke volumes that there wasn’t a lot of care there for his life,” Jada Vaughn said.

Oakland County officials said they will fight the lawsuit in court.

About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.