Jury Begins Deliberating In Lawsuit Over Tulsa County Jail Death

Friday, March 17th 2017, 8:46 am
By: Tess Maune

A jury is deliberating in the civil case against the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office and former sheriff Stanley Glanz after nearly a monthlong trial.

The jury broke for the weekend at about 5:45 p.m. Friday. It will resume on Monday.

More than 20 witnesses testified over the last three weeks.

The estate of Elliott Williams filed the suit after Williams died while in custody at the Tulsa County Jail.

The attorneys for his estate say jail nurses and detention officers ignored Williams when he told them he was paralyzed.

They say Williams became paralyzed after banging his head against a cell door.

The jurors are being asked to decide if the sheriff's office was deliberately indifferent to Williams’ constitutional rights of getting adequate medical care.

3/2/2017 Related Story: The Frontier: Glanz Didn’t Watch Video Of Williams Dying In Jail For More Than A Year

Williams was in jail after suffering a mental breakdown. Records show he died from complications of a broken neck, though there's no evidence of how that happened.

Attorneys for Williams' estate say he begged for help and told jail staff he'd broken his neck. The attorneys say 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 attorney said Williams was treated like a caged animal and tortured in his final days, but the defense argued a jail psychiatrist sent Williams to the medial unit for mental health issues for a medical watch.

The defense says 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.

7/1/2013 Related Story: Lawsuit Filed Against Tulsa Sheriff, Jail For Cruel And Unusual Punishment

The attorneys for Williams' estate said the fact that no one knew Williams was paralyzed was the reason the suit had been filed. They told the jurors it was up to them to "fix the broken system" at the jail and said it would take a historic verdict to do that.

They asked the jury to grant $51 million in compensatory damages - a million for every hour Williams suffered and begged for help that never came.