November 28, 2010

Mississippi Powers-That-Be Ponder Criminal Charges Against the Police Officers Who Electrocuted Jermaine Williams

Jermaine Williams, 30, was electrocuted on multiple occasions by two taser-happy Cleveland Police Department officers, Stanley Perry and Bryan Gozan, who were attempting to arrest him on July 23.    The local coroner concluded that the taser-related death was a homicide.

The family has filed a $25 million civil lawsuit against the officers and the police department for wrongful death. They do not feel that the homicide was justified in any sense of the word.

The only open issue is whether or not the police officers will face criminal charges for their role in the killing of Williams.   The Mississippi Bureau of Investigations (MBI) completed its report concerning this taser-related death. [SOURCE]
The investigation is complete,” said MBI Spokesperson Jon Kalahar. “It was completed sometime this month. It was turned over to the Bolivar County District Attorney office to Ms. Brenda Mitchell a couple of weeks ago.  Ms. Mitchell decided that because she works so closely with the Cleveland Police Department, she did not want to handle the report.  She believed it would be best that it be handled by an outside agency such as the attorney general’s office."
Everyone is now waiting for the district attorney to determine if the officers were justified in killing Williams or if the case will be handed over to a grand jury for consideration of criminal charges.

The police continue to maintain that the extra-judicial electrocutions were proper.  Police chief Buster Bingham and his boys spin the story as follows:
Cleveland Police officers responded to a complaint around 3:18 a.m. of people loitering in the 700 block of Cross Street. During conversations, a bag of suspected cocaine was found on top of one of the vehicles where the individuals were standing.

As is normal procedure, the officers asked for identification of everyone. One particular individual gave the officers several false names. Another person, later identified as Williams, came up and said he was “gonna call someone.” He then grabbed the bag of suspected cocaine and ran.

An officer pursued him and finally caught up with Williams at Lucy Seaberry Boulevard and Cross Street. Williams would not comply and continued to resist the officer. The officer then deployed his taser gun on Williams.

Even then, according to the read statement, he was still combative and actually tried to take the taser from the officer. A second officer then arrived and Williams received a second taser jolt.
Other officers made it to the scene at which time they had to physically pull Williams’ arms out from under him. He was cuffed and officers noticed that he was having medical difficulties. Emergency services was called and prior to their arrival, the officers themselves gave Williams’ medical attention.
He was taken to Bolivar Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.   We figure that the MBI report may answer some of the open questions in this case:
  1. Did Williams die at the scene, on the way to the hospital or at the hospital?
  2. What happened to the bag of suspected cocaine? (did Williams ingest it;  was it recovered or not at the scene?) 
Please let this blog know if you have additional information to share about this taser-related death.


Gunfighter said...

Knowing only what I just read about this case, it doesn't seem inappropriate to have Tased the suspect. If there is any eveidence of wrongdoing on the part of the officers, I would like to hear it.

Villager said...

Gunfighter - We know the police officer's side of the story. We'll never know Mr. Williams side of the story. He's dead.

I suspect that more will come out over time as the city and police department deal with the lawsuit.

Villager said...

All - The decision on whether or not to prosecute the two officers that killed Jermaine Williams now rests with the Mississippi attorney general.

Should be interesting to see if he decides to let this case go to the grand jury...

Gunfighter said...

"We'll never know Mr. Williams side of the story. He's dead." Which is tragic and awful. We do know one thing for sure, though: If the suspect hadn't been fighting with the cops it wouldn't have happened in the first place.

Villager said...

Gunfighter - ... and if the officers had been better trained or didn't rely solely on their taser guns to restrain Williams it may not have happened either.

The penalty for resisting arrest should never be death (of either the perp or the officer).

Wayne Hicks said...

Lawsuit on behalf of the family of Jermaine Williams has been dismissed.