October 19, 2009

Taser Lawsuit: Michael Jones (Iberia, LA)

The family of 43-year old Michael Jones -- who died on February 13 in the Iberia Parish jail after being tasered and beaten to death by prison guards. Jones was arrested a few hours earlier for disturbing the peace and battery on a police officer. He is one of over 40 people involved in taser-related deaths this year in America.

Abbeville Police denied that they killed Jones. They say Jones died AFTER being arrested, examined at Abbeville General Hospital and then transported to the Iberia Parish jail. The police claim that he died in a holding cell at the jail.

The suit, filed in state 16th Judicial District Court, names a variety of individuals from the Sheriff’s Department. The lawsuit gives the following account of what allegedly happened to Jones after he was booked into the Iberia Parish jail:

Warden Frank Ellis had noticed Jones “exposing himself, dancing around, pulling off his underwear, yelling, screaming and making strange sounds.”

When Ellis, Deputy Wesley “Kool Aid” Hayes and nurse Stephanie Celestine opened Jones’ cell to speak with him, Jones began screaming and ran out of the cell.

Ellis and Hayes wrestled and slammed Jones onto the concrete floor; Jones then bit Ellis, and then Hayes began choking Jones.

Ellis smashed his large body over Jones’ lower body while Hayes, who weighed more than 300 pounds, continued choking Jones as he pressed his knees into Jones’ back and neck.

Hayes’ brother, Deputy Jesse Hayes, jumped on Jones and began punching him.

Jones was then handcuffed and shackled while the beating continued.

After several more minutes, Wesley Hayes released Jones, who remained motionless on the concrete floor.

Celestine checked Jones’ pulse, but no one attempted to administer first aid. Instead, Wesley Hayes and Jesse Hayes dragged Jones “dead, naked, handcuffed and shackled” into another cell and left him there.

Acadian Ambulance responded at some point and found that Jones was dead.

Several inmates allegedly witnessed the attack and offered statements for the suit.

A state autopsy indicated a wide array of injuries, including abrasions, neck compressions, blunt force trauma to the head, torso and upper and lower extremities, the suit alleges, and the autopsy confirmed that Jones was strangled.
Meanwhile, Assistant District Attorney Bobby Odinet said they determined that no criminal charges are warranted and there are no plans to bring the case before a grand jury. He declined to comment on the civil lawsuit.

The Jones family understands that the civil courts may be the only way to bring justice against the powers-that-be in this case.


Gunfighter said...

Sounds to me that the victime was beaten and then died as a result of being choked. Does this have anything to do with being Tasered?

Anonymous said...

It is really hard to keep reading about taser deaths or the death of any black man at this point, because the news just keeps coming. For me, there needs to be a balance with what is being done to change this travesty of justice. What about news of the petition2congress, or any thing else that the collective black blogging community can do, like boycotting something to get the nations attention. A prayer rally. What??? Even something we could do in each of our cities, on the same day,at the same time, with local news coverage.

Unknown said...

Gunfighter - My effort is to publicize any taser-related deaths. If the autopsy shows something other than a taser caused his death ... then I'll post that as well. For now, it is clear that the LEOs used a taser on this man ... and then he was dead.

Righteous Choice - There are two upcoming events that might be worth noting in response to your comment. First, there is a rally scheduled in Fort Worth TX on this coming Saturday (11/7/09) to protest the lack of consequences for the police officer that tasered a young 24-yo man to death in that town. Second, many bloggers are coming together for a Day of Blogging for Justice: Stop Taser Torture on Dec 4th.