A South Mississippi attorney believes the country should look to how the community here on the Coast reacted in 2006 after a man was wrongfully killed by law enforcement in the Harrison County Jail.
News 25’s Lorraine Weiskopf spoke with Attorney Michael Crosby about the death of Jessie Lee Williams. A warning, the following video is disturbing.
February 4th, 2006: a situation in a booking room at the Harrison County Jail turned deadly. Jessie Lee Williams was brought in for misdemeanor charges.
With no clear signs of disobedience, he was beaten so badly by jailers he slipped into a coma and died two days later. Attorney Michael Crosby said, “One of the most horrific episodes I have witnessed in my life. I’ve been an attorney for over 30 years.”
Crosby, the lawyer for the Williams’ family, recalls the shocking details of that winter day at the jail. “Putting their knees on his neck, beating him. They used pepper spray. They used tasers to burn holes in him, something I didn’t even know you could do before this case.”
Crosby believes the case is relevant to the George Floyd death in Minnesota because of how well it was handled in South Mississippi. “Rather than tearing things down, robbing and looting and setting things on fire, what our community did is we banned together, we had vigils, we had speeches, and meetings. But we did not act in violence.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office began the process that would hold people accountable for the death of Jessie Williams. Nine former jailers pled guilty and Sgt. Ryan Teel was sentenced to life in prison. “Mob mentality accomplishes nothing. If you want to do things right, you approach it the way we did right here in Harrison County, Mississippi. They can learn something from the way we handled it.”
News 25 reached out to the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, they refused to comment.