County, City Reach Settlement In Jail Beating Case - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

County, City Reach Settlement In Jail Beating Case

A settlement has been reached in the wrongful-death lawsuit between the family of Jessie Lee Williams, Harrison County and the City of Gulfport. Attorney Michael Crosby announced the settlement with Gulfport on WLOX News at 5pm. Crosby would not disclose the amount of the settlement with the city.

Earlier on Monday, the Harrison County Board of Supervisors announced its $3.5 million settlement with Williams' estate. The county's insurance policy will cover $1 million. The rest of the settlement will be funded by a bond issue.

Williams died in the Harrison County jail in February, 2006. His family filed a $150 million civil lawsuit alleging negligence and wrong-doing.

Supervisors say it's in the best interest of the taxpayers to settle the case.

"There will be no admission to liability by Harrison County, the Sheriff, or his deputies. This settlement will be made to avoid possible larger financial obligations, substantial attorney's fees and court costs," Board President Larry Benefield said. "Hopefully, this settlement will bring some measure of closure for the heirs of Jessie Lee Williams, as well as the citizens of Harrison County."

Benefield says it will take between 60 and 90 days to borrow the money to pay for the settlement. He says the bond issue will mean a minimal tax increase for Harrison County residents.

By the way, this civil case isn't over yet, because there are other defendants named in the suit.

The settlement with the City of Gulfport came later in the day. Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr told WLOX News the city's liability is a fraction of what the count must pay, though he would not disclose the amount until he goes over the agreement with the city council.

"We're proud to provide some resolution to this issue. We feel that it's time for this to be resolved," Warr said.

The city will not have to borrow to pay the settlement. The mayor says it's within the limits of the city's insurance deductible.

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