Radley Balko is outraged by the death of Jesse Lee Williams, Jr. while in the custody of the Harrison County, Mississippi, sherriff's department. Williams was arrested on misdemeanor charges. After his arrest, witnesses claim he was savagely beaten to death of department personnel. The account is quite sickening.
Apparently everything that happened to Williams was caught on video, as there are several cameras where Williams was beaten, but Balko reports tapes have not been released to the media or Williams family. There is no excuse for this. If the police did nothing wrong, they should release the tapes. Their refusal to do so after several months suggests that the tapes show police conduct the county would rather not reveal — or rectify, for that matter. According to Balko, no charges have been filed (though one deputy is no longer employed by the department).
Balko concludes: "If prosecutors held civilians to the same standards they hold police officers, my guess is that there would be a lot fewer people in prison." Sad to say, but if prosecutors held police to the same standards they hold civilians, there also might be more cops behind bars — and crooked, sadistic cops like those who allegedly killed Williams would no longer give honest, hard-working police officers a bad name.
UPDATE: It seems the feds are on the case. As noted in one of the comments below, the Sun-Herald is reporting:
A former Harrison County jailer's guilty plea today for her involvement in the beating of Jessie Lee Williams Jr. includes admission that a pattern of abuse existed at the jail and corrections officers have covered up other acts of unnecessary force.
Regina Lynn Rhodes, 29, pleaded guilty to depriving Williams of his civil rights under cover of law and concealing information about the Feb. 4 beating, which led to Williams' death. Rhodes, in a written statement of facts, also admitted she struck Williams on his neck, bag and legs while he was restrained in blows that caused bodily injuries.