Lawsuit Filed Against Tulsa Sheriff, Jail For Cruel And Unusual Punishment

Monday, July 1st 2013, 4:45 pm
By: News On 6

Editor's Note: The 10-minute video released by the federal judge shows any and all movement in the medical cell while Elliott Williams was present.

A federal judge has allowed video evidence to be released to the public, showing the death of a Tulsa County inmate.

The video is part of a civil rights lawsuit against the Tulsa County Sheriff and several jail employees.

This case dates back to October 2011. That's when Elliott Williams died at the jail, and his estate is suing for cruel and unusual punishment and neglect.

The video details the final 51 hours of Elliott Williams' life at the Tulsa County jail. The video released to News On 6 is condensed down to 10 minutes to show only the times there was movement inside or outside his cell.

Read The Lawsuit

The video is at the center of a civil rights lawsuit, blaming the 37-year-old's death on failed mental health policies and understaffing at the jail.

The lawsuit states Williams lay dying in a cell for five days, without ever receiving medical or psychiatric treatment.

Before he was booked into jail, Owasso police records show Williams was having a mental breakdown, rambling about God, eating dirt and asked officers twice to shoot him.

He was dancing, crawling on the floor, barking like a dog and repeatedly slamming his head into a cell door.

The lawsuit says Owasso police should have transferred him to a mental facility, but booked Williams into the Tulsa County jail instead.

In the booking area, he was screaming "Cut it out of my belly!"

Documents say he rammed his head into the glass window of the cell door, bounced off and fell to the floor, afterward complaining he was paralyzed and couldn't walk, but he was left there for 10 hours.

The jail issued a medical emergency, but the lawsuit states Williams still didn't get the help he needed. He was placed on a gurney, where he soiled himself, and a nurse said she thought Williams was faking it.

The lawsuit says Williams was placed in general population, then eventually dragged on a blanket into a video-monitored medical cell.

You can see jail workers setting food and water at the edge of his reach. Williams dips his fingers in the water to touch to his lips. He then knocks over the cup as he tries to grab food.

The video shows Williams being given a test to check his reflexes, but documents say he never received treatment.

On the day he died, jail workers flip his body off the blanket and try to revive him. They perform CPR on him at least three different times.

The plaintiff's attorneys say Williams should have received the same amount of medical attention when he was alive.

The sheriff's office sent a statement saying, "The death was an unfortunate event in the Tulsa County Jail. On the advice of counsel, we are unable to comment on current litigation. We look forward to defending this case in court at the appropriate time."

The estate is also suing the jail's healthcare provider, numerous jail nurses and four Owasso Police officers.

The medical examiner's report says Williams died from complications of spinal injuries due to blunt force trauma.

The trial is set for January 2014.