Former Sheriff Stanley Glanz didn’t watch the video of Elliott Williams dying on the floor of Tulsa’s jail until more than a year after Williams died, he testified Thursday.
And when he did watch the videotape in preparation of a 2013 deposition, he didn’t see anything in the video that affected Williams’ health.
Glanz, 74, also acknowledged to jurors that he’d pleaded guilty to a crime involving dishonesty and that he is currently on probation. He said he pleaded guilty to a charge involving his use of a county vehicle while collecting a car allowance “because I couldn’t afford to defend myself.”
Glanz’s second day of testimony in the civil trial over Williams’ 2011 death in Tulsa’s jail was filled with instances in which the former sheriff was forced to confront the failings of his own agency, as documented by a slew of audits and reviews.
Glanz agreed that he could not name any policy or procedure that changed as a result of the the studies’ findings in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011. The audits found failures in nearly every area of the jail’s medical and mental health care, including a finding just weeks before Williams’ death of a “prevailing attitude among clinic staff of indifference.”
Glanz testified during the seventh day of a trial in U.S. District Court over Williams’ death in the jail from complications of a broken neck. The lawsuit names Sheriff Vic Regalado in his official capacity and Glanz in his individual capacity. The jail’s former medical provider, Correctional Healthcare Companies Inc., was previously named but has settled with Williams’ estate for an undisclosed amount.
A 2007 review by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care found that “the follow up of inmates with mental health needs is not of sufficient frequency to meet their needs.” The study found a “noted delay” in responding to routine mental health requests by inmates.
A 2009 report completed warned the Sheriff’s Office of systemic problems with the jail’s medical and mental health care.
During cross-examination, Glanz said he felt the audits were important to ensuring the jail’s medical care met national and state standards. He noted the jail’s private medical provider was responsible for making the changes per their contract.
“We’ve always tried to improve, improve, improve, improve,” he said.
Glanz said if the provider wouldn’t have fixed the issues after the audits found the jail’s medical care wasn’t in compliance with standards, he would have sought to terminate the contract. All problems were fixed upon or soon after discovery, he said.
Consultant Betty Gondles’ report raised issues with the a lack of training and orientation for new health staff, nurses failing to document delivery of health services to inmates and delays in inmates receiving medications.
Glanz, who served as Tulsa County’s sheriff for 27 years, testified Gondles was a close friend who had reviewed jails and prisons across the U.S.
The report noted many of the issues stemmed from a “lack of understanding of correctional health care issues by jail administration and contract oversight and monitoring of the private provider.” It recommended a bureau of health services to be established and a director of health services be hired to overlook the contract.
Once the measure to hire a contract monitor was taken, Gondles wrote she believed “many of the issues outlined in this report will be resolved.”
However, the Sheriff’s Office didn’t hire a medical professional to oversee the contract until 2014. When a nurse was hired to serve as a watchdog, she filed no reports in two years regarding inmates’ deaths and only one report about the company’s medical care.
Meanwhile, the county’s 2010 contract renewal with its medical provider, Correctional Healthcare Companies Inc., required the sheriff to hire a full-time medical professional to oversee the contract.
The agency designated one of its existing employees, Capt. Rick Weigel, to fulfill that role. Weigel had no medical training, but his wife was a nurse at a Tulsa hospital, Glanz noted on Wednesday.
Glanz said Weigel received training to oversee the jail’s medical contract.
Dan Smolen, an attorney representing Williams’ estate, said in Weigel’s deposition, Weigel testified he was unaware his name was on the contract and never received any training.
“Would that surprise you?” Smolen asked Glanz of Weigel’s deposition.
“Yes,” Glanz replied.
Asked why the Sheriff’s Office didn’t hire someone until 2014 to monitor the contract, Glanz said he told his undersheriff to budget the position, but that never happened.
Smolen asked whether it was true the Sheriff’s Office spent “hundreds of thousand of dollars” on travel for training conferences between 2009 and 2015.
Glanz said yes.
Smolen pointed out on one trip, Glanz spent $550 per night at a hotel. Glanz took a horse-drawn carriage to his hotel, played golf and had afternoon tea.
Glanz said he didn’t remember having tea and wasn’t aware of the hotel cost, but it was on only one occasion.
In 2013, Sheriff’s Office employees spent about $170,000 on travel, Smolen said.
Out of the agency’s $40 million budget at the time, the amount spent on travel wasn’t surprising, Glanz said.
During cross-examination, Guy Fortney, an attorney representing the Sheriff’s Office, asked Glanz why he traveled to conferences.
Glanz said he didn’t get to choose where the conferences were held. He tried to go to as many as possible because he believed they were beneficial in improving operations of the Sheriff’s Office, he said.
At one conference, he met an officer from Colorado who experienced the 2012 Aurora shooting — a mass shooting that occurred in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado — and then brought him to do a presentation in Tulsa to more than 250 officers, he said.
During testimony on Wednesday, Glanz acknowledged telling a Tulsa World reporter in 2005 that private medical providers had an incentive to cut corners on inmates’ medical care. At the time, Corrections Corporation of America operated Tulsa’s jail and Glanz was lobbying to assume control of the jail. Glanz had said ideally, the jail would manage its own medical staff.
However six months later, Glanz took over jail operations from CCA and signed a contract that contained a cap limiting spending on outside medical care for inmates, testimony showed.
Glanz testified he changed his mind about seeking a private medical provider after hearing advice from other sheriffs and corrections professionals. He concluded he didn’t have the experience or expertise to manage the jail’s medical unit, he said.
Under questioning by Smolen, Glanz agreed that a provision of the contract capping spending on outside medical care saved money for the Sheriff’s Office and its contractor when inmates were not sent to the hospital.
When asked during cross-examination whether an inmate had ever been denied a trip to the hospital because of the cap, Glanz said no.
Fortney then asked whether any of the facts Glanz uncovered when reviewing Williams’ death indicated Williams was refused transportation to a hospital because of the cap. Glanz again replied no.
Asked again why the Sheriff’s Office didn’t hire a nurse to oversee the medical contract, Glanz said he disagreed with the idea it would have prevented Williams “from causing his own injury.”
Williams died from complications of a broken neck and showed signs of dehydration, a medical examiner’s report states. A video depicts him lying on the floor of a cell over five days while detention staff tossed trays of food at his feet and placed a cup of water out of reach.
During questioning by Smolen, Glanz said he did not watch the video of Williams dying until about a year and a half later.
The former sheriff replied that his staff did not tell him he needed to watch the video. He watched it in 2013 preparing for a deposition in the case, he said.
“Were you too busy?” Smolen asked.
“If they would’ve made the recommendation I would have viewed the video,” Glanz replied.
Exactly how Williams broke his neck is unclear. An Owasso police officer slammed Williams to the floor by his head and neck in the jail’s booking area.
Another inmate said he believed Williams rammed his head into his cell door. However, Smolen has questioned why that claim did not surface until more than a month after Williams’ death.
When Smolen asked Glanz whether he knew how many deaths occurred in the jail when the agency wasn’t following jail standards, policies or the recommendations of auditors, Glanz said he didn’t know.
An investigation by The Frontier last month found experts identified at least 10 deaths in Tulsa’s jail since 2006 that could have been prevented if jail and medical staff would have followed jail standards, auditors’ recommendations and their own policies.
Smolen pointed out that jail administration was put on alert of routinely violating standards in 2009, two years before Williams died.
Glanz said when problems were found they were corrected but acknowledged they could have posed a risk to inmates’ health and safety.
There’s no law requiring Tulsa County’s jail to be follow accrediting standards, Glanz said. He made the decision to meet national and state guidelines to “make sure there’s quality healthcare in that facility.”
A 2010 National Commission on Correctional Health Care audit also identified several deficiencies with the jail’s health care. Some of the problems were similar to what Gondles’ report found.
Glanz said he didn’t read the entire audit but discussed it with his undersheriff, who read the report. He said he didn’t read the full report until about three weeks ago.
When asked why Glanz waited until after he was removed from office to read the audit, Glanz replied “to prepare for this trial.”
Smolen pointed out Williams didn’t see the jail’s medical director, Dr. Phillip Washburn, until after he died.
Glanz said he didn’t know whether that was true.
When Smolen reminded Glanz he saw the video of Williams dying in a medical unit in Tulsa’s jail, Glanz said he wasn’t sure the video showed everything that occurred.
Defense attorneys have argued that the Sheriff’s Office’s video showing Williams dying on the floor of a medical cell failed to capture him moving around, drinking and eating.
Smolen questioned Glanz about how his agency investigated Williams’ death and the sheriff shot back that he requested an investigation by an outside agency, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
“Isn’t it true Mr. Glanz that you referred this investigation to OSBI because you were on the board of OSBI and could control the outcome of the investigation?”
Glanz said that wasn’t true.
Smolen then played a clip from a 2015 news conference in which Glanz noted he could not ask the OSBI to investigate a shooting by reserve deputy Robert Bates.
“I could ask the OSBI in, but again, I’m on the commission that appoints, that hires and fires the director of that. He’s not an outside guy. He’s someone that I have direct control and influence over.”
Near the end of the day’s testimony Thursday, Smolen and defense attorney Clark Brewster announced they had reached an agreement to cut Glanz’s direct testimony short to allow time for cross-examination so a medical expert to testify Friday. Smolen said he planned to call Glanz for additional direct testimony after the expert testifies.
His last question of the day for the seven-term sheriff involved dishonesty.
“My next question for you is whether you consider yourself to be an honest person.”
“Me?” Glanz answered. “I absolutely do.”
“Can you please explain to the jury whether you, yourself, have ever been convicted of a crime involving your dishonestly within the last 10 years.”
“I pled guilty to a charge of using a county-owned vehicle while I was doing police work,” Glanz said. He went on to explain that “it was interpreted by the grand jury” that Glanz should not have used that type of vehicle for county business.
However the charge Glanz pleaded guilty to, willful violation of the law, states he collected a $600 car allowance and drove a county vehicle, a misdemeanor. Glanz also pled no contest to refusal to perform official duty because he withheld an internal report about Bates requested by reporters.
Glanz said he pleaded guilty to the charge “because I couldn’t afford to defend myself.”
An investigation by The Frontier found that Tulsa County officials are the highest paid in the state, with the sheriff making $107,000 per year plus a $600 car allowance and a $100 phone allowance.