Mississippi Jailor Excessive Force Cases
After a 2006 beating death of a Harrison County jail inmate, the victim’s family received a $3.5 million payout by county officials. Jessie Lee Williams, Jr., was booked into the Harrison County Jail on misdemeanor charges for disorderly conduct on February 4, 2006. Two days later, Williams was dead. Former jailor, Ryan Teel, was convicted of murder for Williams’ death, and sentenced to life in prison. Nine ex-jailors pled guilty to conspiracy to deprive an inmate of his rights through unnecessary and excessive force. Allegedly, jailors emptied the contents of a can of pepper spray into a hood, then placed the hood over Williams’ face while he was tied to a chair. Williams later died of kidney failure. Security cameras also showed a guard kicking Williams in the groin, then beating and kicking him repeatedly.
Three Jailors Fired in Arkansas for Excessive Force
In neighboring Arkansas, in 2013, three Benton County jailors were fired for using excessive force on an inmate—actions which were caught on surveillance camera. According to the Benton County Sheriff, the inmate was ignoring “commands” while being booked. Three jailors forced the inmate to the ground, sitting on his back for several minutes while attempting to force him to tell them his name. The jailors then placed the inmate in a full-body restraint, and pepper-sprayed him in the face area, then used a Taser on the man.
Controlled Take-Down or Deliberate Trip?
In 2014, in Denton, Texas, a jailor was fired after using excessive force on an inmate during the booking process. The inmate, Jason Bishop, was booked on public intoxication charges, then apparently refused to cooperate fully with jailors, who tripped Bishop, causing him to fall onto his face. While the jailors insisted they were attempting a controlled take-down, video surveillance showed the inmate was deliberately tripped.
Harris County Jail Routinely Violated Constitutional Protections of Inmates
The list goes on and on and on. Nearly every month we read of excessive force being used in a jail on an inmate. Some of the force—and resulting injuries—are relatively minor, while others are very serious. In 2015, an article in the Houston Chronicle discussed the number of inmates in the Harris County jail who were brutalized and neglected. Consider the case of Norman Hicks, a 72-year old retired butcher who had been in the Harris County Jail for less than two weeks when he died after being punched by a guard (who had been involved in eleven prior excessive use of force incidents). Hicks was hit by the guard with a closed fist, so hard bones broke in his face. He fell, hit his head, and was left to bleed to death on the floor of an interview room.
Jailors Who Brutalize Inmates Rarely Face Criminal Charges
Court records show jailors who brutalize inmates rarely face criminal charges, even when it is established that excessive force was used. Most jailors who were disciplined for abuse of authority or use of excessive force, received only a short suspension, and criminal charges are rare for guards and jailors who use excessive force. In 2009, the Justice Department concluded that inmate’s constitutional protections were routinely violated by excessive violence on the part of jailors and guards, as well as substandard medical care—and that these in turn led to an “alarming” number of inmate deaths. In Harris County alone, there were nearly 1,500 incidents where jailors or guards used excessive force on inmates between 2009 and 2013, and 70 in-custody deaths during the same time period.
Hinds County, Mississippi Charged with Improving Jailor Training
In September 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a decree stating Hinds County, Mississippi jailors need improved training. This came on the heels of a federal investigation which found multiple violations of inmates’ rights at local Mississippi jails. The 59-page agreement called on the county to provide training to jailors which regarding how to properly use force. The Hinds County officials were given 49 days to adopt the required improvements and implement the training, or face litigation.
Kingsley v. Hendrickson Supreme Court Case
In another case, Michael Kingsley asserted that, as he waited in county jail for his upcoming trial, he was forcibly removed from his jail cell by guards when he refused to remove a piece of paper from the light fixture over his bed. Kingsley was placed face down on his bunk, then one of the officers put his knees in Kingsley’s back. Another officer bashed his face into the concrete bed Next, a Taser was applied to Kingsley’s back for approximately five seconds. Kingsley filed a complaint in Federal District Court which stated that two of the officers used excessive force when they brutalized him, violating his Fourteenth Amendment rights. Kingsley claimed the officers recklessly disregarded his safety, and his rights.
The jury found for the officers, and Kingsley appealed. The Supreme Court agreed with Kingsley, handing down a 5-4 decision in Kingsley v. Hendrickson, and granting Kingsley a new trial. The justices who agreed with Kingsley, said, essentially, that as a pretrial detainee, he should have been free from the application of force that is more than objectively required to further a legitimate, non-punitive governmental issue. The Court also said that detainees need not prove the subjective state of mind of prison guards who use force against them, but must only show that the force used against them was objectively unreasonable.
Call the Stroud Law Firm Today
If you live in Southaven, Olive Branch, Horn Lake or Desoto County, and you or a loved one have been the victim of excessive force at the hands of jailors or other law enforcement, call the Stroud Law Firm could well be the most important decision you will make. Those who are being detained in jail until trial, or those who have been sentenced to jail or state prison, are entitled to be free from the use of excessive force. You could be entitled to compensation for the injuries you sustained as a result of such excess force on the part of a jailor or jail or prison guard. We understand your situation and have helped many people just like you who did not know who to turn to. We have the experience, the knowledge of Mississippi laws regarding excessive force, and an impressive track record of success. Don’t wait—call the Stroud Law Firm today at (662) 536-5656.