Texas sheriff fires 11 jail staffers over brutal beating of inmate who died in custody

Texas sheriff fires 11 jail staffers over brutal beating of inmate who died in custody
Inmate’s brutal beating and death is under criminal investigation

De Harris County, Texas sheriff fired 11 county jail staffers on Friday over the brutal beating and death of an inmate in February during the state’s mass power outages from a winter storm.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs reported a series of interactions between detention officials and inmate Jaquaree Simmons on 16 februar. In the morning, guards responded to Mr Simmons’ cell after he used his clothing to clog the toilet, causing water to overflow and spill onto the floor. After guards cleaned up the scene, they returned Mr Simmons to his cell without any clothing, according to the sheriff’s report.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez

A series of confrontations ensued throughout the day and into the night, with Mr Simmons suffering “multiple blows to his head”, according to the sheriff’s report. Mr Simmons was found to have died from “blunt force trauma to the head with subdural hematoma”, with the death ruled a homicide. The Houston Police Department has opened a criminal investigation into Mr Simmons’ death.

The incident occurred during Texas’ historic cold snap, which knocked out power in large areas of the state, including the Haris County jail on the night of 16 februar.

“During a natural disaster, we expect to see the very best in our employees. These 11 people betrayed my trust and the trust of our community,” Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said in a statement. “They abused their authority. Their conduct toward Mr Simmons was reprehensible. They showed complete disregard for the safety and well-being of a person they were directly responsible for protecting. They escalated, rather than de-escalated, the situation. Their conduct was unacceptable and inexcusable, and has discredited them, the Sheriff’s Office, and their fellow employees. None of them deserve to wear the Harris County Sheriff’s Office patch ever again.”

The terminated jail employees, according to the sheriff, er:

  • Detention Officer Garland Barrett
  • Detention Officer Patricia Brummett
  • Detention Officer Joshua Dixon
  • Detention Officer Alysheia Mallety
  • Detention Officer Israel Martinez
  • Detention Officer Eric Morales
  • Detention Sgt. Jacob Ramirez
  • Detention Officer Alfredo Rodriguez
  • Detention Officer Daniel Rodriguez
  • Deputy Dana Walker
  • Detention Officer Chadwick Westmoreland

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