Oklahoma Jail Guards Ridiculed A Black Veteran As He Slowly Died In His Cell

Film/TV Editor
04.19.16 4 Comments


An ongoing civil rights case has revealed the disturbing treatment of Elliott Williams as he lay critically injured on the floor of his Tulsa County Jail cell for five days. In 2011, the 37-year-old black Army veteran, who had a record of mental illness, was taken into custody after allegedly causing a disturbance in a local Marriott hotel lobby. Williams’ father says a marital breakdown was the cause of his son’s distress, and he was charged with misdemeanor obstruction after being pepper sprayed by police. A dive into the Oklahoma State Court Network database reveals that Elliott hadn’t had more than a few traffic violations in Oklahoma prior to this run-in with the law.

Williams later ended up incapacitated with a broken neck before passing away. The Daily Beast dug into more details as the federal case heats up. The local station NewsOn6 had already published details from the booking report:

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 … In the booking area, he was screaming “Cut it out of my belly!”

The civil rights suit claims that Williams’ behavior should have alerted authorities to transport him to a hospital or mental health facility. That didn’t happen, and Williams was instead taken to the Tulsa County Jail. Once there, records show that he slammed his head into his cell door, which caused him to fall to the floor where he never recovered. Williams stayed on the ground, paralyzed, and communicated to guards that he could not move, but “a nurse said she thought Williams was faking it.”

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