Inmate Left to Die as Broken Neck Ignored for Days

The county and former sheriff involved just lost a wrongful death lawsuit
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2017 5:30 PM CDT
Updated Mar 26, 2017 5:32 PM CDT

An Army veteran died a slow death in an Oklahoma jail in 2011 after breaking his neck and receiving no medical attention, despite his insistence for days that he could not move. On Monday, a federal jury ruled in favor of Elliot Williams' estate in a wrongful death lawsuit over the incident, ordering Tulsa County to pay $10.2 million in damages and former Sheriff Stanley Glanz to pay $250,000, KRMG reports. The attorney for Williams' estate says he believes this may be "one of the worst civil rights violations in US history"—and the final 51 hours of it were caught on the Tulsa County jail's surveillance system. The difficult-to-watch video shows Williams on the floor of his cell as his cries for help are ignored and food and water are placed just out of his reach. In an extensive look at the case last year, the Daily Beast explained what happened.

Williams, who had a history of mental illness, was arrested in a hotel lobby Oct. 21, 2011, after hotel staff called police saying he appeared to be having a mental breakdown. On Oct. 22, in the jail's booking area, he was slammed to the floor by an officer who said he landed on Williams' shoulders and head. After that incident, Williams started screaming and having difficulty standing; investigators were concerned he may have broken his neck but offered no medical treatment, even as Williams insisted he was paralyzed. Officers told Williams' parents he was faking his injuries, despite the fact that he stopped eating and drinking, urinated and defecated on himself, and had a seizure. He died Oct. 27 of complications from the neck injury and dehydration. Charges had not yet been filed against him when he died, Fox 23 reports. (In Florida, an inmate died after being forced in a shower with dangerously hot water.)

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