Hostage Situation Led to Deadly Shooting by Policemen
The family of an inmate shot dead by police Saturday during a hostage situation inside the Oklahoma County Jail is calling for criminal charges to be filed against involved officers.
Curtis Montrell Williams, 34, is the jail inmate killed.
His relatives said during a news conference on Monday outside the jail said the victim was trying to escape from the bad conditions at the jail.
“I knew Curtis for 34 years and I know for sure that he would not just go out and kidnap anyone,” said Rhonda Lambert, the mother of the dead man.
“Conditions in the jail caused my son and so many others like him to lose self-control.”
The deadly encounter Saturday was the latest blemish against the jail, which in its 30-year history has, been the target of criminal justice reform advocates, who say the facility is overcrowded and understaffed with poor sanitation, plumbing and food among conditions that drive inmates to harm themselves, each other and staff.
Relatives at the news conference said Mr. Williams made telephone calls and expressed “mental anguish” over the jail conditions.
“He shouldn’t have lost his life behind these conditions,” Donald Lambert, Mr. Williams’ father, commented.
A former jail inmate complained of cockroaches, bed bugs and lack of security at the jail.
“They got three men in a two-men cell, people sleeping on the floor,” Jaray Antwine said.
“Some toilets don’t flush or they don’t have hot water. You got to go to another cell to get water. You might have a shower on Monday, then your next one is Friday.
Mr. Antwine, a convicted felon on kidnapping and firearm possession charges, complained that guards either do not know who rival gang members are or allow them to interact, and that leads to violence.
“It’s bad, bro,” he said to reporters.
The former inmate said he is a gang member and was released in January.
The hostage situation occurred on the 10th floor of the jail.
The jail administrator, Greg Williams, said inmates on that floor are subjected to a welfare-check every 30 minutes.
“They are also checked during recreation, showers, feeding or as medication is being distributed,” he said.
“The hostage ws the only detention officer on the
[floor] at the time of the shooting.
There were 37 inmates on the floor.”
A news release said that Lieut. Coy Gilbert and Officer Kevin Kuhlman fired the shots that killed Mr. Williams.
Lieut. Gilbert has been with the Oklahoma City Police Department for 23 years. Officer Kuhlman has been with the department for five years.Mr. Williams was holding a makeshift weapon to the throat of the detention officer, the news release said.
The detention officer’s life was in “imminent peril,” police said.
Jail officials said the detention officer was not injured.
The family of Williams called for felony murder charges to be filed.
“We need to know (they’re) going to be prosecuted for what they’ve done,” Donald Lambert, the dead man’s father, said.
The incident was the latest in a string of deaths at the jail, which was taken over from the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office in July by the newly-created Oklahoma County Jail Trust.
With Mr. Williams, five inmates have died at the jail this year alone.
In videos taken during the hostage incident Saturday and posted online, inmates can be heard complaining about bad food, poor sanitation and other conditions.
The dead man had been jailed since 2019 after he was charged with the illegal possession of a gun after felony convictions.
He was awaiting trial for that charge and for a 2019 rape charge.
His trial was postponed at least once because of the pandemic, according to court records.
“People like to drag people through the mud, but we all make mistakes,” the dead man’s father said, referring to media reports about his son’s criminal record.
“We all sin and fall short of the glory of God,” but that doesn’t mean a man’s life should be taken.”