Former Harrison County deputy denied bond in death of inmate

Published 4:40 pm Friday, September 1, 2006

A federal judge has denied bond to a former Harrison County deputy charged with assaulting a prisoner who later died and with falsifying records to try to influence an investigation of the case.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Roper on Thursday ordered Ryan Teel held without bond until his Nov. 6 trial in the death of inmate Jessie Lee Williams Jr.

Teel, 29, was a Harrison County sheriff’s deputy working as a corrections officer at the time of Williams’ fatal beating in the jail booking room on Feb. 4.

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FBI agents arrested Teel on Monday after he was indicted on federal charges of deprivation of civil rights under color of law, and destruction, alteration or falsification of records in a federal investigation.

Jim Davis, Ryan Teel’s court-appointed attorney, maintained his client is not a flight risk or a danger.

Regina Lynn Rhodes, a jailer who was fired in April, pleaded guilty in July to injuring Williams with repeated blows to his neck, back and legs while he was restrained. She will be sentenced Oct. 16. She faces up to 13 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for violating Williams’ civil rights.

Rhodes said in her plea agreement that a supervisory deputy and other jail employees encouraged the beating of inmates “in circumstances that did not justify the use of force.”