Authorities in Oklahoma City have released graphic video showing prison inmates drag, beat and stab a guard before police shot and killed one who was holding a shank to the jailer’s neck.
The violent incident took place on the afternoon of March 27 at the Oklahoma County Detention Center and resulted in the death of 34-year-old inmate Curtis Williams.
Williams’ family members and activists claimed that the inmate, who was in jail in connection with rape and gun possession charges, was killed for complaining about conditions inside the jail, which was said to be overcrowded and crawling with cockroaches and bed bugs.
The newly released video shows police and sheriff’s deputies enter the pod at the jail and shoot and kill Williams, who was standing at the top of a landing and holding a knife to the neck of jailer Daniel Misquez, who was on his knees.
Inmate Curtis Williams is seen in security video holding guard Daniel Misquez hostage at the Oklahoma County Detention Center on March 27. Video was released following a fatal officer-involved shooting at the jail
This screenshot from the video shows Williams pressing a shank to Misquez’s neck
Williams’ family say he acted out because of appalling conditions at the jail
After Williams was shot, Misquez tumbled down the staircase and officers pulled him to safety and left the 10th-floor pod.
Deceased inmate Curtis Williams, 34, was accused of pressing a homemade knife against the guard’s neck
Misquez was treated at a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries after being beaten and stabbed multiple times, as seen in the video.
Williams was the fifth inmate this year to die at the jail, which has a long history of high staff turnover, overcrowding and escapes. Oversight of the lockup was transferred last year from the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office to a nine-member jail trust.
Activists protested outside of the Oklahoma County Detention Center last weekend over its conditions and what they say is heavy-handed tactics by police.
Oklahoma City’s police chief, Wade Gourley, said Friday that one of the reasons his department released the video this soon after the shooting was because of recommendations from a community task force the mayor created last year amid concerns about policing.
In this image taken from video from the Oklahoma County Detention Center, jailer Daniel Misquez is stabbed by an inmate before police shoot and kill another inmate
The pod on the 10th floor at the jail houses close to 40 inmates
Police officers and sheriff’s deputies storm the jail pod with guns drawn and opened fire on inmate Curtis Williams, killing him, as he was holding Misquez hostage
‘We’re going to try to release information earlier in the future,’ he said.
Police identified the officers who shot Williams as Lt. Coy Gilbert, a 23-year veteran, and Officer Kevin Kuhlman, who has five years of service. Both have been placed on administrative leave while an investigation is underway.
Gourley defended the officers’ decision to enter the pod and use force.
‘They have to try and rescue the hostage because of the situation,’ Gourley said. ‘We can’t sit there and watch him be brutalized any more or possibly killed.’
Gourley said officers were unable to immediately check on Williams or render aid because inmates were moving freely about the pod, which housed 37 inmates and hadn’t been secured.
‘When this initially happened, the area was not secure,’ Gourley said. ‘They had to reformulate a plan, reassemble with less lethal and other devices to get in there.’
This photo shows what police say is the homemade knife that Williams used during the attack on the guard
Williams’ family has criticized police and jail officials for their handling of the incident and called for the two officers and Gourley to be fired.
‘He shouldn’t have lost his life behind these conditions up in here and the stress he was under,’ Williams’ stepfather, Donald Lambert, told reporters on Monday, The Oklahoman newspaper reported.
Gourley, who was hired as chief two years ago after 30 years with the department, said he has no plans to step down.
‘I’m not resigning,’ he said. “When I leave here I’ll retire. I’m a law enforcement officer with 32 years of experience, and I’m not resigning. I’ve seen nothing here that would prompt that.’