Attorney in Harrison Co. wrongful death case asks for civil trial to proceed

Published 12:31 am Sunday, October 1, 2006

The attorney for a family in a wrongful death case has asked a federal judge to allow the lawsuit to go to trial.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker in July halted the civil lawsuit pending criminal developments surrounding Jessie Lee Williams Jr.’s fatal beating Feb. 4 at the Harrison County jail. Walker’s order delayed legal proceedings in the civil lawsuit, with a review in 60 days.

The 60 days were up Friday. However, a federal court order remains in effect until a judge rules otherwise.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Attorney John Whitfield filed the motion in U.S. District Court on Wednesday.

Two former corrections officers face criminal prosecution in the events surrounding Williams’ death, which was ruled a homicide. Regina Rhodes has pleaded guilty to criminal accusations and is set for sentencing Oct. 16. Ryan Teel is in custody pending trial Nov. 6.

The lawsuit has a string of complaints including allegations that Williams was beaten and tortured by jailers acting under color of law and in violation of his civil rights. It also alleges a pattern of abuse existed at the jail before the fatal beating.

The lawsuit represents only one side of the legal argument.