TULSA — A federal jury has ruled in favor of the estate of Elliot Williams, an army veteran who died in the jail in 2011 after suffering a broken neck and receiving little or no medical treatment.
The ruling came Monday after weeks of testimony which detailed how Williams spent days lying on the floor of his cell while guards and medical personnel ignored his cries for help.
They tossed food into the cell, and put water just out of his reach, because they apparently thought he was faking his injuries.
The jury ruled that the county must pay $10.2 million in damages, and former Sheriff Stanley Glanz an additional $250,000.
The last 51 hours of Williams’ death were captured by the jail’s own video surveillance system.
Dan Smolen, the attorney for Williams’ estate, told KRMG the case was unprecedented, in his experience.
“It’s the only case that I’m aware of, not just here locally in Tulsa but really nationally, dealing with people held in a detention setting where the records depict one thing happening, but the reality of what's truly happening is caught on film over such an extended period of time,” Smolen said.
Jail records indicated Williams was eating, and receiving medical attention, when the video shows that was clearly not the case.
“We believe that this prolonged and reckless neglect, in the way that they treated Elliot Williams in the Tulsa County jail, really constitutes one of the worst civil rights violations in U.S. history,” Smolen told KRMG.
Plaintiffs had asked for $51 million in compensatory damages - a million dollars for every hour of that video showing Williams lying on the floor of his cell with a broken neck.
Additional punitive damages against former Sheriff Stanley Glanz and the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail, were at the discretion of the jury.