Last updated: 5 months ago
Elliott Williams spent the last five days of his life in a Tulsa County jail, paralyzed and lying on the cold concrete floor. But despite the 37-year-old Oklahoma man’s pleas for help, guards did nothing to save him, a lawsuit claims.
At one point, jailers dumped Williams’s limp body into a shower and left him there for an hour. The dying inmate “would not stand up but we did give him a shower anyway,” a captain later testified, according to a sheriff’s office internal report.
Another officer saw Williams face down in the shower, screaming, “Help me!” according to the internal report.
In the days that followed, Williams’s father tried in vain to contact his son. He was denied visitation “because of Elliott’s condition.”
“He’s acting like he’s paralyzed, but we know he’s not,” a mental health worker told Williams’s dad.
According to the motion seeking release of the video and related documents, Williams–who had exhibited signs of mental illness–tried to hurt himself and ran into a steel door head-first after being placed in a booking cell upon arrival at the jail Oct. 22.
When detention officers and medical personnel refused to treat him, claiming he was faking paralysis, he was left on the floor of the booking cell for 10 hours and soiled himself, the motion states.
He was then transferred by gurney to the jail’s medical unit, where he was dumped in a shower and left for two hours. He was then moved to a medical unit cell, where he was left naked on a steel bunk with only a blanket, the motion states.
Williams remained in the cell, naked, immobile and with only a blanket, for the next three days, according to the motion.
He last ate on the morning of Oct. 23 and last drank any water–“other than a few drops he managed to lick off his fingers”–on the morning of Oct. 24, according to documents cited in the motion.
The next morning, on Oct. 25, Williams was dragged on his blanket to a video-monitored cell, according to the motion. The remaining 51 hours of Williams’ life were videotaped.
Included on that tape, according to the motion, are numerous instances in which detention officers opened Williams’ cell door and threw Styrofoam food containers onto the floor of the cell.
On Oct. 26, the day before his death, no one entered his cell, according to the motion.
“On one occasion, he attempted to open one of the food containers that had been thrown into his cell the previous day, but his efforts to do so failed,” the motion states. “In the process of trying to open the food container, he spilled the cup of water. The empty cup was still in the cell when Mr. Williams died.”
Just after 8 a.m. Oct. 27, a doctor and a jail nurse found that Williams had little, if any, reflex in his feet. Vomit and saliva had pooled on Williams’ face, but he was provided no additional medical care, according to the motion.
Three hours later, detention officers entered Williams’ cell and found him not breathing and without a pulse.
“As a final demonstration of the complete lack of human respect shown Mr. Williams throughout his jail stay, two of the nurses took a corner of Mr. Williams’ blanket, lifting and pulling on it until Mr. Williams’ dead body was sent sprawling across the floor,” the motion states.
The State Medical Examiner’s Office found that Williams died from “complications of vertebrospinal injuries due to blunt force trauma” and “also found a pattern of dehydration,” the motion states.
October 2012 Lawyers ask Federal judge to release video
July 2013 Lawsuit filed