Former Tulsa Sheriff Found Guilty Of Violating Elliott Williams’ Civil Rights
Does the name Stanley Glanz ring a bell? What about the names Eric Harris and Robert Bates?
Robert Bates was a Tulsa, Oklahoma reserve deputy when he was part of a sting operation. Bates fatally shot unarmed Eric Harris, and said that he mistook his gun for his taser. Eric was restrained when Bates shot him.
On April 2, 2015, a jury found Bates guilty of second-degree manslaughter. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison. After serving 497 days, the 76-year-old Bates was released from the North Fork Correctional Center. He will serve probation for the remainder of his sentence.
In March 2018, Tulsa County agreed to pay a $6 million settlement to Eric Harris estate’s excessive force lawsuit. If you would like to read more about that case and Bate’s trial, please click this link.
So, who is Stanley Glanz? Glanz was Sheriff of Tulsa. Eric Harris’ death uncovered a law enforcement agency in disarray. Glanz and Bates were fishing buddies. In September 2015, Glanz was indicted for failing to release a 2009 internal report that raised serious concerns about Bates’ ability to do his job. Glanz eventually pleaded no contest and was sentenced to a year of jail time, which was suspended.
Glanz was also named as a defendant in a civil suit filed by the family of Elliott Williams. Elliott Williams, 37 years old and a veteran, was taken to the Tulsa jail in October 2011 after being arrested in Owasso in the lobby of a Marriott hotel for misdemeanor obstruction of a police officer. Rather than going through the jail’s screening process, Elliott was taken directly to a holding cell.
Shortly after being placed in the cell, Elliott rammed his head into the door and fell to the ground. An inmate seeing what happened called for help, and Elliott told detention officers he had broken his neck and couldn’t move.
Detention officers did nothing. Elliott died at the Tulsa Jail on Oct. 27, 2011, after living on the floor of his cell for five days with a broken neck. He was unable to reach food or water. The jail did not send him to the hospital or provide treatment because nurses and the psychiatrist said he was faking paralysis.
Elliott’s family filed a civil lawsuit in 2012. In 2016, a federal court ruled that the case could proceed. At trial, former Sheriff Stanley Glanz testified that Elliott didn’t undergo a mental health assessment upon his arrival at the Tulsa Jail because he was “acting up.” He told jurors that because of Elliott Williams’ behavior, he didn’t have a problem with him not being evaluated.
Glanz also defended his use of racial slurs, saying that they were used by the FBI in written reports in the 1960’s.
Asked how often inmates fail to go through the booking process and lay in their own feces for 10 hours while yelling for help, Glanz responded that it happens “two to three times a week in that facility.” He stated that many are intoxicated and some of the jail staff believed that Elliott was intoxicated.
Joshua Lanter, who oversees the Tulsa branch of the state Medical Examiner’s Office, also testified at the civil trial. He told jurors that no one at the Sheriff’s Office informed him of Elliott’s complaints of a broken neck and paralysis before his initial autopsy.
Lanter said that the information he was given before the autopsy he performed was that Elliott refused to move while in the jail — not that he couldn’t move. He also testified that he never received surveillance video from inside Elliott’s cell for a better idea of what led to his death, despite the existence of such recordings. These details likely would have altered the way he performed the examination, he said.
Lanter did not discover the damage to Elliott’s spine in his initial examination because neck injuries can be hard to diagnose and he had not treated the case as a suspicious death. It wasn’t until a second autopsy was performed by another forensic pathologist that he was able to rule the cause of death as “complications of vertebrospinal injuries due to blunt force trauma.”
Tammy Hanley, a detention officer, logged that she fed Elliott at 10:50 the morning he died. However, Elliott was already dead at that time. Hanley was subsequently terminated for falsifying logbooks.
In March 2017, Federal District Judge Dowell ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, requiring Tulsa County and former Sheriff Stanley Glanz to pay $10.2 million and Glanz personally responsible for paying $250,000 in punitive damages, to the Estate of Mr. Elliott Williams. Elliott’s Estate had asked for $51 million in compensatory damages – a million dollars for every hour of that video showing Elliott lying on the floor of his cell with a broken neck.
Tulsa County and Glanz asked the court for a new trial. In addition to seeking a new trial, attorneys for the county and Glanz asked Judge Dowdell to consider overturning the jury verdict and render a decision in its favor.
The defendants contended the trial judge had erroneously permitted counsel for Williams to make “inappropriate remarks that inflamed ‘passion’ in the jury so as to increase the amount of compensatory damages awarded.”
In March, 2018, U.S. District Judge John Dowdell denied the request for a new trial. In a ruling that denied the request for a new trial and other motions filed on behalf of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office and former sheriff Stanley Glanz, said;
“The evidence included testimony and exhibits that would support a finding that Mr. Williams: was paralyzed shortly after entering the jail; experienced severe mental and physical pain and suffering thereafter; was dumped off a gurney into a shower after defecating on himself; was left, helpless, in the running water for up to three hours; was berated and treated with indifference by jail staff despite his paralysis; and ultimately died.”
The judge said evidence showed that Williams begged for water, suffered from dehydration and could not feed himself or handle a cup of water as he “spent his last days lying on the floor of the jail cell in his own waste, where he ultimately died after the jail failed to provide him with necessary medical care or transfer him to an outside facility.”
The judge also said evidence showed that had jail personnel obtained timely medical care for Williams, he would not have suffered and died.
Dan Smolen, the attorney for Williams’ estate, told KRMG News that the case was unprecedented, in his experience.
“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.”
“Jail records indicated Williams was eating, and receiving medical attention, when the video shows that was clearly not the case.”
“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,” Smolen told KRMG.
Earlier, Elliott’s family sued Correctional Healthcare Companies, Inc. which was the contracted medical provider for the Tulsa jail. That case settled, and Glanz asked the court to require the disclosure of the confidential settlement. Glanz argued that he and Tulsa County were entitled to a credit or set-off. The judge denied that request.
Now, Glanz is appealing. The court did grant a request that the defendants not post bond while it pursues appeal.
The video below captured what happened to Elliot, summarizing each day, his complaints, and how the staff interpreted his complaints. It might be difficult to watch. The second video addresses Glanz’s use of racial slurs.