FORT LAUDERDALE — An emergency room doctor’s report about a man who died 11 years ago as a result of being hog-tied by Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) deputies and county paramedics appears to contradict some accounts of the tragedy given by first responders, a South Florida Times investigation has found.
“This is a 37-year-old male who was reported to be combative at the scene, was brought in by EMS without a neck collar, lying supine with handcuffs and multiple twist ties to restrain him,” Dr. Jean M. Ferber wrote in her Oct. 15, 2001 trauma report after the man, Oral Brown, was pronounced dead.
Brown was an accident victim who, according to several eyewitnesses, was beaten, hog-tied and forcibly restrained by emergency personnel who responded to the scene. He was then strapped face-down to a gurney and transported to a hospital where he arrived without a pulse and was not breathing. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. An autopsy determined the manner of the death was accidental and caused by “positional asphyxia” due to his being hog-tied.
Ferber’s report about Brown arriving to the emergency room without a neck collar contradicts testimony given by deputies and firefighters during depositions in a pending lawsuit over Brown’s death, and accounts in BSO homicide and Internal Affairs investigations.
A grand jury ruled the death was a tragic accident but not criminal. Those proceedings were confidential and it cannot be determined what testimony was provided. The homicide report states, however, that firefighter Ken Loukenin crawled inside Brown’s wrecked vehicle and “placed a cervical collar” around his neck. However, there is no mention of a collar being used in the official notes of paramedics.
Additionally, an Internal Affairs report states that Detective Glenn Bukata obtained a “stiff neck,” or cervical collar “like the one affixed to Mr. Brown at the accident from Fire Station #14. He turned it over to Dr. Rush, of the Medical Examiner’s Office, who examined the device and opined that the bruising on Brown’s neck was consistent with having the collar placed on him.”
The Broward Medical Examiner’s Office has not responded to repeated calls or emails sent seeking comment about the issue.
However, according to official logs compiled by paramedics, the trip from the accident scene to the emergency room took less than six minutes. The autopsy report said Brown had injuries to his neck, but makes no mention of a comparison between them and the wearing of a cervical collar.
Ferber, who is now a trauma surgeon at Delray Medical Center, did not return calls from the South Florida Times about the case. The deputies who compiled the Internal Affairs and homicide reports declined interview requests made through BSO’s Media Relations Office, director Jim Leljedal said.
The contradiction about the neck collar is the latest in a series of questions to surface in the case. A judge who oversaw the grand jury also dismissed a lawsuit filed by the family. The pathologist who ruled the death an accident, turns out to be the wife of the detective who supervised the homicide investigation. Several witnesses who say Brown was beaten unnecessarily were never contacted to give statements or testify before the grand jury.
An appeals court reversed its earlier ruling dismissing a lawsuit Brown’s widow Alverna Brown filed over his death. Michael Winer, the attorney representing her, says he intends to schedule new depositions in light of the new information.
“The doctor has no reason to lie in her report,” Winer said. “This is yet another incident about this case that cries out for it to be re-opened.”
The civil rights organization People for Equal Rights and Justice Inc. (PFERJ), headed by the Rev. Dennis Grant has called on Gov. Rick Scott to appoint a special prosecutor to reopen the criminal investigation into Brown’s death. Scott’s office has said he is reviewing the request.
* Pictured above is former Broward Sheriff's Office firefighter Ken Loukenin.
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