Inmates held a detention officer hostage at Oklahoma County Detention Center on Saturday, March 27.
Inmates held the correctional officer hostage on the 10th floor of the jail. Greg Williams, the administrator for the Oklahoma County Jail Trust, described how the situation started on Koco News.
“The inmate took the officer’s radio and keys and released many of the other inmates on the 10th-floor pod,” Williams said.
According to Williams, the 10th floor holds inmates who are the most difficult to manage.
After jail staff became aware of the hostage situation, they notified local law enforcement agencies. The Oklahoma City Police Department and the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office responded to this emergency.
The police and sheriff’s deputies said they tried to de-escalate the situation but shot and killed the inmate when the inmate held something to the officer’s neck. They said saving the officer was the highest priority.
The officer was taken to an Oklahoma City hospital afterwards and has not had any serious injuries. Koco news reported the officer’s condition.
“The correctional officer was taken to a hospital for treatment,” Koco news said. “Although authorities did not release the extent of the officer’s injuries, they said he is expected to be OK.”
According to The Oklahoman, the suspect was identified as Curtis Montrell Williams. Curtis Williams is the fifth inmate to have died at the Oklahoma County Detention Center in 2021. Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson, Black Lives Matter Oklahoma City leader, said one reason this incident happened is the condition of Oklahoma County jail.
“The poor conditions inside the jail need to change,” Dickerson said. “The inhumane conditions of Oklahoma County jail are horrendous.”
The Oklahoma County Detention Center has had problems with escapes, overcrowding and death due to COVID-19. Jail officers have complained about the poor conditions for a long time, but the issues have not been resolved.
Inmates streamed videos on Facebook Live with the correctional officer’s phone after they took him hostage. In these videos, inmates complained about the terrible conditions in the jail, including Greg Williams. The Oklahoman shared details about the video posted on the hostage’s Facebook.
“The correctional officer can be seen kneeling with his arms tied behind his back,” The Oklahoman said. “An inmate can be seen on camera mentioning a lack of necessities.”
The video recorded Curtis Williams’s voice too.
“We want food, we got water in the trays, we can’t take showers,” Curtis Williams said.
The Oklahoman explained what another inmate showed in the video.
“Another inmate, holding the phone in his cell, shows his room, including a toilet he said had been clogged for three or four days, adding that inmates had been without showers for two weeks,” The Oklahoman said.
According to the video, inmates could not take a shower and the water was often cold. Food was often cold and sometimes served late or skipped.
The video was eventually deleted, but screen recordings of parts of the video spread on the internet.
According to the New York Times, a staffing shortage is the biggest reason for these problems. Tricia Everest, chair of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority, said a few changes would go a long way.
“Change the culture and really work at increasing staffing,” Everest said.