This all started when Army veteran Elliott Williams, who was suffering from mental illness, was arrested at a hotel on Oct. 21, 2011. The front desk of the hotel phoned officers when Williams, who was accompanied with his parents at the time, started having a mental episode in the lobby. The alleged victimless crime was for misdemeanor obstruction. His sentence was death.
Daniel Smolen, the lawyer for Williams’s family said, “This guy went almost six days and never got taken to the hospital with a broken neck. They’re throwing food at him and making fun of him in the cell while he’s going through a horrific death. You wouldn’t do that to an animal or any living thing.” Some of the human rights atrocities the he endured while incarcerated were recorded on the jails surveillance cameras.
Smolen said, that this case is the worst civil rights violation that he’s witnessed on video. “It’s a slow torturous death, you’re cognizant of it the whole time. It’s like a nightmare.”
The Tulsa County sheriff’s office had no comment on the pending court cases. Sheriff Glanz’s attorney Corbin Brewster argued that, “Williams was surrounded by people in the jail who thought they were taking care of him.
Brewster wrote, “Despite medical staff’s incorrect diagnoses of Mr. Williams before his death, the undisputed evidence is that the medical professionals who examined and treated Mr. Williams sincerely believed he was faking paralysis.” Brewster added, that the plaintiffs representation “has not established any evidence at anyone at the jail… consciously refused to provide him with medical care.”
Before Elliott was placed in the back of the squad car, he looked over at his father and told him that he loved him. This would be the last time they would see each other again.
The morning of Oct. 21, Earl and Katha Williams were together with their son when they say he became “somewhat argumentative” from the back seat of the car. That same afternoon, Williams checked into an Owasso hotel along with his wife, then later she phoned Earl. She claimed that she couldn’t wake him up and was scared. So his parents hurried to the hotel and knocked on their door that was opened by Williams.
Williams got ready and joined his family for afternoon church service. When the family arrived back at the hotel, Williams threw a paper bag in the lobby and headed back outside. A couple of cops showed up a few minutes later, Earl told them that his wife had recently left him and that he was severely sleep deprived. Williams’s marriage was on the rocks and he had been living with his dad since October of 2011. Earl explained while Williams was talking to the cops that he was discombobulated and not making any sense. The officers called in a mental health worker. The clear sign that there was something mentally wrong with him and should have been boldly documented on the arrest report. As they waited, Williams became impatient and did not comply to the police who were telling him to sit down.
Officer Benjamin Wolery remembered that Williams “starting singing and talking to God,” stuck his hand in some grass and grabbed a handful of grass and dirt while saying “something religious and touched it to his tongue.” Worey added that he also said “Going to be a beat down tonight, all the way down there to the ground.” He asked, “Do we know if we are going to wake up in the morning?”
Earl remembered Williams telling the cops as he was pointing at his chest as he told the police that he was going to kill himself and asked cops to shoot him. “I know what this is, a black male and two Owasso officers, homicide or suicide, take two bullets. Eliah (his wife) is out of my life, she is out of my life, take a shot, what is wrong with you all, are you scared? It’s a suicide, do I need to provoke you?”
Wolery said that Williams took a “threatening” step in the direction of him and the other cop Jack Wells, who pepper sprayed Williams. Wells took Williams to the ground, and pressed his knee into his back. Earl then said he visibly saw his son’s left foot drag when the officers picked him up and escorted him to the patrol car.
Earl questioned why his son was being arrested and taken away, one of the fully armed cops said because replied, because he was interfering with a police officer. Paramedics arrived and washed pepper spray out of Williams’s eyes and face when Earl and son exchanged their final goodbyes.
The next day Earl called the Tulsa County jail to set up a time to visit his son, but they told him that it was too early. Earl, full of worry at this point was told that his son was transferred to medical section of the jail. John Lnuk, a staff member in the jail’s mental health department, received the call from the concerned father on Oct. 24.
Earl said Lnuk stated Williams was saying, “I want a drink of water.” Earl became more concerned asking if he was ok, Lnuk said that he was fine and that “He’s acting like he’s paralyzed, but we know he’s not.”
Two days of continued attempts to see his son Earl got through to a chaplain asking him to please check on him. Finally on the 27th, another chaplain visited Williams and delivered the dire results to Earl, Williams wasn’t responding very well at all and Earl needed to visit the jail as soon as possible.
When Earl made it to the jail that day, Lnuk told Earl that the staff was taking Williams to the hospital. Shortly he learned that his beloved son was dead.