Oklahoma county agrees to pay family of man who died in jail $10M

Oklahoma county agrees to pay family of man who died in jail $10M
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An Oklahoma county agreed to pay $10 million to the family of a man who died in jail more than eight years ago, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Elliott Williams was found dead in his cell in 2011 after complaining about a broken neck for five days and being allegedly mistreated by staff, prompting his parents to file a civil rights suit against the county to win money for his estate.  


Video recordings show the last 51 hours of Williams’s life, with staff members at the Tulsa County Jail dragging him on a blanket from his cell, tossing food trays at him and putting water out of his reach, according to the Times. 

Dan Smolen, the attorney for Williams’s estate, said the staff members had a “total attitude of indifference,” leading to the “dehumanization” of Williams. 

“It’s so disturbing,” Smolen told the Times. “There were dozens of people who came in contact with Elliott Williams in the Tulsa County Jail and laughed at him, mocked him, thought he was faking and didn’t do anything.”

A lawyer for the county, Guy Fortney, told the Times that both sides were happy with the results and want to move on. 

A representative from the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office said it had no comment or statement at this time.

A federal jury gave Williams’s estate $10.25 million in 2017, but the county appealed. The settled agreement removed a $250,000 fine to the former Sheriff of the Tulsa County, Stanley Glanz.

Williams, a 37-year-old Army veteran, was arrested in October 2011 due to an obstruction complaint in a hotel lobby, and police records indicate Williams said he was going to kill himself.

The Army veteran then banged his head against a steel door at David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center, causing him to break his neck. A medical examiner said in 2014 Williams died from complications of vertebro-spinal injuries, starvation and dehydration.

Kevin Williams, Williams’s older brother, told the Times he was relieved with the outcome, but “no amount of money will bring him back.”

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