OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma City Police Department released a video Friday showing inmates drag, beat and stab a jailer before police shot and killed one who was holding a homemade knife to the jailer’s neck.
The graphic video also shows police and sheriff’s deputies enter the pod at the Oklahoma County Detention Center and shoot and kill 34-year-old inmate Curtis Montrell 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. After Williams was shot, Misquez tumbled down the staircase and officers pulled him to safety and left the pod. Misquez was treated at a hospital for injuries that weren’t life-threatening, jail officials said.
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.
“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.”
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.”