Jury: Tulsa County To Pay $10M In Elliott Williams Jail Death
TULSA, Oklahoma - After deliberating for about ten hours, the jury in the Elliott Williams trial has reached a verdict.
The jury decided Tulsa County should pay $10 million to the plaintiffs. It also decided former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz must pay $250,000 in punitive damages.
The decision comes after nearly a monthlong trial. They attorneys for the Williams estate asked the jury to grant $51 million in compensatory damages - a million for every hour Williams suffered and begged for help.
Kevin Williams, one of the family members, burst into tears as the verdict was read Monday. He said they're on their way to some kind of closure for Elliott.
"Somebody should have went to jail. Somebody should have been charged. So, I'm not satisfied fully, but I'm content with the decision," he said.
The estate of Elliott Williams filed the suit after Williams died while in custody at the Tulsa County Jail.
The attorneys for his estate said jail nurses and detention officers ignored Williams when he told them he was paralyzed after banging his head against a cell door.
The jurors were asked to decide if the sheriff's office was deliberately indifferent to Williams’ constitutional right to adequate medical care. Attorneys for Williams' estate said he begged for help and told jail staff he'd broken his neck. The attorneys said no one did anything to help.
Jail surveillance video showed Williams lying on a jail cell floor for five days. It showed jail staff tossed trays of food at his feet and placed water out of his reach and showed jail staff dragging him from one cell to another on a blanket.
The family's attorney said Williams was treated like a caged animal and tortured in his final days.
"The County has been indifferent to the problem that exists in the jail for decades. And it was nice to see the jury recognize that. It was nice to see a family that lost a loved one in the jail in such a horrible way get some justice today," said Attorney Daniel Smolen.
The defense argued a jail psychiatrist sent Williams to the medial unit for mental health issues for a medical watch. It said because Williams was suffering with mental illness the nurses and detention officers thought Williams was faking when he said he couldn't move.
The defense argued if any of the staff had believed Williams had broken his neck they would have treated the situation differently, but said they were acting on information they'd received, which was that Williams was mentally ill.
The attorneys for Williams' estate said the fact that no one knew Williams was paralyzed was the reason the suit had been filed.
Glanz declined to comment outside the courthouse Monday afternoon; current Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado said he would comment at a later date.