The widow of a man who died last year after being handcuffed and tasered by county deputies stood outside the locked McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office Thursday morning.
Barbara Barrick stood before a dozen or so TV cameras and announced, along with her attorney, that she was seeking justice for her husband Bobby.
Bobby Dale Barrick died in March 2022 following an incident at Eagletown.
On Thursday, Barbara Barrick filed a wrongful death and excessive use of force lawsuit in federal court at Muskogee against the Board of County Commissioners, McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy, deputies Matthew Kasbaum, Quentin Lee and Kevin Storey, and Oklahoma Game Warden Mark Hannah.
In addition to claims that the officers’ actions contributed to Barrick’s death, the suit contains a claim for what is called “Monnell liability.” That’s a doctrine based on a 1978 case that allows a governmental entity to be sued for a constitutional violation that was caused by either lack of training or supervision, or by policy or customs of that entity.
Both attorney Mitchell Garrett and Barbara Barrick praised this newspaper’s work and recent Open Records Act suit, which finally resulted in release of the body cam footage showing Barrick’s tasering.
“I really do appreciate Bruce and his son Chris at the Gazette for being so persistent and brave with not only my husband’s case, but with so many others,” Mrs. Barrick said.
Garrett said even to this day, more than a year after it happened, the sheriff’s department has never made so much as made a phone call to Barbara Barrick.
Mrs. Barrick said her husband, from Tulsa, was visiting relatives in McCurtain County last year when the incident occurred at Eagletown.
Garrett said there are many things still unknown about what happened, and they are hoping more will come to light during the discovery process.
“There were some cameras at the corner store at the time,” he said, “but somehow they all seem to have malfunctioned after the cameras were turned over to the sheriff’s department.”
Also, he said, all the body cams on officers became deactivated during the incident with Barrick.
He said Barrick was involved in a fight with some contractors at the store, where they took to the ground, beat him and hogtied him.
Officers arrived after that.
“We really wish we knew what happened to Bobby, but we don’t know all the answers,” Garrett further said.
“The last three minutes of his life we know he feared for his life. He was asking the deputies not to kill him. He was asking EMT technicians for assistance. We know that he was experiencing a mental health crisis while this was going on.”