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Curtis “Buff” Williams was not sentenced to death. Yet, the 34-year-old was shot and killed in the Oklahoma County Jail on Saturday evening, during a hostage situation in the facility.
In fact, Mr. Williams had not yet been tried for a crime when he died, after waiting for more than two years, according to his family. The extended Williams family noted that Mr. Williams’ mental health had been impacted by the isolation of jail, and he was not, as authorities initially claimed, a troublemaker.
While the details of the hostage takeover are still hazy, a jailer was attacked by a group of prisoners on the unit in which Mr. Williams was housed in the facility. Mr. Williams was shot and killed by two Oklahoma City police officers, both of whom are currently on paid administrative leave.
Inhumane conditions and killed without a trial
Mr. Williams had been awaiting trial since 2019 when OKC police killed him. His family believes such inhumane treatment led directly to his senseless death, and is appealing for immediate charges against the officers involved and a reform of jail conditions.
The Oklahoma Coalition Against People Abuse, a criminal justice reform advocacy group, agrees. Standing in alliance with Mr. Williams’ family, the organization whose vision works toward “laws governing punishment for crime are implemented humanely and with decency,” repudiated the senseless killing of Mr. Williams.
According to Alyssa Wesley, mother of Mr. Williams’ two children, Mr. Williams “would have me and his mom call up the jail and ask them when they’re going to feed them. He would tell me there’s mold in the shower, there are bed bugs and roaches. He hated it there.”
During a press conference, Mr. Williams’ mother Rhonda Lambert tearfully repeated a mantra all too familiar to mothers of Black sons across the United States, “My son didn’t have to die. He did not have to die.” Mr. Williams’ stepfather, Donald Lambert, called for changes to the Oklahoma County Jail, appealing that Mr. Williams’ death would not be in vain. “We need to address these things and make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” he stated.