Sheriff Issues Apology For Williams' Death - - The News for South Mississippi

Sheriff Issues Apology For Williams' Death

Harrison County Sheriff George Payne released an apology Tuesday to the family of Jessie Lee Williams. Payne's statement comes one day after the county settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the Williams Family for $3.5 million.

The news release from the Sheriff's Department reads as follows:   

Sheriff George Payne has announced his deepest sympathies for the Williams Family and hopes that we in Harrison County can move forward as we work to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future. 

Since the Williams death, Sheriff Payne has worked tirelessly to ensure the pubic that a fair and impartial investigation was conducted. To that end, Sheriff Payne and his staff have, and will continue to cooperate fully with the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, and the District Attorney's Office. 

Sheriff Payne hired Dr. Don Cabana as warden of the Harrison County Adult Detention Center in August 2006, with a mandate to make whatever changes necessary to provide both inmates and correction officers with an environment that is safe, secure and operationally sound. 

Sheriff Payne has given the warden his complete support in that endeavor.

"I truly want the Williams family to know that I am sorry for their loss and I assure the people of Harrison County everything is being done to promote and strengthen the professionalism, training, and conduct of the many fine, dedicated staff who work under the most difficult of circumstances in the Harrison County Adult Detention Center," Payne said. 

Williams died in February 2006 after being beaten at the jail. His death brought a demand for change at the Harrison County Jail, and a federal investigation, which found a pattern of abuse there. Five former deputies have pleaded guilty to abuse related charges. Four others are set to stand trial next month.

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