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Local advocacy group calls for action after man's death in police custody

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Body camera footage

Body camera footage from a Norman police officer shows officers dragging 34-year-old Marconia Kessee along the ground outside of Norman Regional Hospital. Kessee later died in police custody.

A local activist group is demanding the resignation of two Norman Police officers involved in an altercation that ended in a man dying in his jail cell hours later.

The Norman Citizens for Racial Justice, a local activist organization, released a statement condemning Marconia Kessee's "unjust death."

Kessee, 34, died Jan. 16 after being taunted and dragged along the ground outside Norman Regional Hospital where he had sought medical attention. He was found unresponsive in a cell at the Cleveland County Detention Center two hours after the altercation ended in his arrest.

Footage from body cameras worn by Master Police Officer Kyle Canaan and Officer Daniel Brown shows the officers accusing him of "acting" after he falls to the ground shaking and yelling incomprehensibly.

The Norman Citizens for Racial Justice's press release stated that the group believes the Norman Regional Hospital was negligent and the Norman Police Department "treated Marconia with extreme cruelty, denying him basic human rights, and profiling him because he was black, homeless and ill."

"We fear for the future of Norman if there is not a way to protect the community from a police force that is exhibiting aggression, militarization and a lack of ability to properly interact with homeless, mentally ill and people of color communities," the press release states.

The group said in the release that it holds Norman Regional Hospital, the Norman Police Department, Cleveland County Jail and the city of Norman responsible for Kessee's death.

The group calls for both officers involved to be fired, a city inspection of the health conditions of the Cleveland County Detention Center, a city review of the discharge practices at Norman Regional Hospital, improved officer training for interactions with mentally ill and homeless persons and the creation of a civilian advisory board to allow for independent investigations of deadly use of force by police and deaths in police custody.

"The death of Marconia Kessee is unjustifiable and inexcusable," the release said. "We call on the community of Norman to stand alongside Marconia’s family as they seek justice."

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