Gulfport Police arrested Jessie Williams Saturday night on several misdemeanor charges. Officers took him to the Harrison County Jail. What happened inside is what the Williams family has hired attorney Michael Crosby to find out.
"They want justice. They came in here and they said the number one priority is we want to make sure that the truth comes out and that justice is served."
In his effort to make that happen, Crosby says he has talked to many people who say they saw what happened to Williams in the booking area of the jail Saturday night.
Williams' family says he was not a drug user. Crosby says the family is confused over the direction the investigation is taking and whether he suffered head injuries before or after he got to the jail.
"Our investigation has already revealed through eyewitness statements to us, which we're turning over to the authorities, that all injuries he received were received in the booking department of the Harrison County Jail and that the most severe injuries were received after he was in restraints," Crosby says.
Sheriff George Payne confirms deputies pepper sprayed Williams, but he's not saying much more because of the continuing investigation. Crosby says it goes much further.
"It appears a sack was placed over his head with pepper spray sprayed in that sack and the sack was pulled tight around his neck and beatings continued," says Crosby.
Sheriff Payne says just like the family, he wants to know the truth, and that's why he asked for an investigation. The FBI is conducting its own investigation. The Harrison County District Attorney, Coroner and Mississippi Bureau of Investigation are investigating jointly.
Jail records show Jessie Williams served time on a burglary conviction in 1989. The records also indicate he has been in and out of jail on a variety of charges including disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and assault on a police officer.