Attorney hails $10.25 million verdict in jail inmate's death
Mar. 21, 2017
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — An attorney for the estate of a man who was naked and paralyzed when he died in a cell in the Tulsa County Jail's medical unit hailed a jury's $10.25 million verdict in a federal civil rights trial.
The jury deliberated for about 10 hours over two days before returning its verdict Monday that the sheriff's office and former Sheriff Stanley Glanz violated Elliott Williams' civil rights, the Tulsa World reported Tuesday (http://bit.ly/2mLtZem ).
"I just hope that the county takes it seriously and they do something," said Dan Smolen, an attorney for the Williams estate.
The jury ordered the sheriff's office and Glanz to pay $10 million in compensatory damages to the Williams estate. It also ordered Glanz, who was sued in his private capacity, to pay $250,000 in punitive damages. Glanz was the only defendant subject to the punitive damages claim.
Attorney Guy Fortney, who represented Glanz and the sheriff's office, said he was disappointed and would meet with current Sheriff Vic Regaldo to discuss a possible appeal. Glanz and Regalado declined to comment Monday.
Williams' brother, Kevin Williams, said he was satisfied with the jury's decision, but he called for criminal charges to be filed.
"No amount of money is going to bring him back," Kevin Williams said of his brother. "People need to be going to jail. There needs to be criminal charges filed."
The jury found that the county was "indifferent" to Williams when he was in jail and also to "problems that have existed in the jail for decades," Smolen said.
An autopsy found that Williams' death on Oct. 27, 2011, was due to complications from a broken neck and that he exhibited signs of dehydration.
A surveillance camera that medical staff attempted to use to prove whether Williams was faking his paralysis captured video of the 51 hours he lay helpless on the floor of the cell, and an edited portion of the footage was shown to jurors during the trial. The video shows food trays being tossed on the floor at his feet and a cup of water being placed on the floor out of his reach.
Williams arrived at the jail Oct. 21, 2011, following an altercation with Owasso police. According to testimony and court records, Williams suffered a "mental breakdown" stemming from his separation from his wife and his mother's cancer diagnosis. Owasso officers pepper-sprayed and arrested the 37-year-old man on an obstruction complaint when he reportedly took a step toward them and said he wanted to be shot.