The Sun Herald on Tuesday made public the videotaped beating of a Harrison County jail inmate whose death 18 months ago spawned a federal investigation and a growing list of civil lawsuits.
Until the recent trial of two former jailers, the graphic images of what happened under color of law to Jessie Lee Williams Jr. have been kept secret, sealed by federal court orders. U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. made the video available in response to the Sun Herald's public-records requests and a resulting lawsuit that asked for the documents to be unsealed and returned to the public domain.
The public's first access to the video of Williams' beating was at sunherald.com, where it was posted Tuesday afternoon.
Filmed by booking-room surveillance cameras, the tape has no sound, but shows pictures snapped every two or three seconds from the time Williams was brought in to the booking room at 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 4, 2006 until an ambulance crew picked him up around midnight.
Jurors in a nine-day trial ending Aug. 17 found former jailer Ryan Teel guilty of conspiring to deprive inmates' rights, using unnecessary, excessive force in Williams' fatal beating and obstructing justice by writing a false report. Williams, 40, of Gulfport, died of brain trauma. Co-defendant Rick Gaston was acquitted of a conspiracy charge and other assaults that didn't involve Williams.
Nine former jailers await sentencing in the federal investigation, which, according to prosecutors, proves a culture of violence existed at the Harrison County jail and may produce another indictment.