A black Army veteran died a slow, excruciating death in an Oklahoma jail while jail officials looked on and did nothing to help, according to the Daily Beast.
Elliott Williams, 37, was arrested on misdemeanor obstruction charges at a Marriott hotel in 2011, where staff reported he appeared to have a mental breakdown. The Army veteran had a history of mental illness. But the encounter with law enforcement turned into a sentence to be left immobile for days in a jail cell, where the staff believed he was “faking” his condition.
“This guy went almost six days and never got taken to the hospital with a broken neck,” Daniel Smolen, his family’s attorney, told the Daily Beast. “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.”
His family has filed a federal lawsuit.
Most of what happened to Elliott while in custody was captured on jail surveillance camera.
“It’s a slow, torturous death,” Smolen said. He told the Daily Beast that it’s the worst civil rights violation he’s seen on film. “You’re cognizant of it the whole time. It’s like a nightmare.”
Just one segment of the video shows Elliott lying immobile on his back for hours after officers dragged him into his cell.
At one point, jailers dragged an immobile Williams into the shower and left him there. Another officer saw him screaming for help while lying face-down in the shower. One captain later recalled this incident while testifying, saying Williams “would not stand up but we did give him a shower anyway.”
A mental health worker told Williams’ father, “He’s acting like he’s paralyzed, but we know he’s not.” His family says jail staff insisted he was faking and refused to transport him to get proper medical care until it was too late.
Watch surveillance footage of Williams in his cell, as posted by the Daily Beast, here: