Family of Army veteran, who died in jail cell after being left paralyzed for days, wins lawsuit

A federal jury has vindicated the death of a 37-year-old Oklahoma Army veteran who died in a Tulsa jail after breaking his neck and receiving no medical treatment for days.

The Monday ruling came as a relief for the family of Elliot Williams, who was left to die -naked, alone and afraid- on a jail cell floor in 2011 as guards and medical personnel ignored his weakening pleas for help, putting food and water just out of his reach on suspicions that he was merely malingering.

The jury ruled that Tulsa county must pay $10.2 million in damages to Williams’ estate, adding that  former Sheriff Stanley Glanz must pay an additional $250,000.

Subjected to conditions one generally envisions a Prisoner of War would endure, the stripped veteran’s final fifty-one hours of life (51 hours dying of a broken neck) were captured in chilling detail on the jail’s own surveillance system.

Williams estate attorney Dan Smolen told local news station KRMG that the case was “unprecedented.”

“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. “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.”

To make matters worse, jail records show that Williams was eating and receiving medical attention- in direct contradiction to the surveillance footage.

In fact, it was after Williams had been swarmed by jail personnel in their attempts to revive him that several of the medical and corrections staff began to look upwards at the camera, complete with dour facial expressions.

Clark Brewster, who represents the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, claims the blame lies with medical providers, not TCSO.

The original request of compensation was $51 million-  million dollars for every hour that Williams lay dying on the floor of a broken neck.

Additional charges against former Sheriff Glanz and the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office was at the discretion of the jury.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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