Teel: "I Felt My Life Was At Risk From Jessie Lee Williams" - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Teel: "I Felt My Life Was At Risk From Jessie Lee Williams"

Taking the stand in his own defense, former Harrison County jailer Ryan Teel described in detail his altercation with inmate Jessie Lee Williams. Teel told a far different story about the night in February 2006 than was described by the testimony of numerous prosecution witnesses.

Teel described how inmate Williams was combative and tried to attack him after being brought to the jail by Gulfport Police.

He told the jury, "I felt my life was at risk from Jessie Lee Williams that night."

Teel admitted hog-tying Williams. He agreed that was against jail policy, but told the jury, "under extreme circumstance, we are to use whatever force necessary to control the situation."

During a heated exchange with government attorney John Richmond, Teel said he could not recall making statements that he would kill Jessie Lee Williams.

"You made good on that promise, didn't you Mr. Teel?" Richmond asked.

"That's an absurd statement. I don't even know how to respond to that," Teel replied.

"It's not absurd. It's true. Mr. Williams is dead," Richmond said.

Teel also told the jury at several points during the altercation, he was afraid of Jessie Lee Williams. 

"How could you be frightened by a restrained inmate?" the prosecutor asked.

"Mr. Richmond, if you'd just been choked, wouldn't you be scared of the one who choked you?" Teel said.

Throughout the trial, witnesses have testified about assaults on other inmates. On the stand, Teel said he was aware of numerous assaults of inmates in the shower area and testified that co-defendant Rick Gaston, the booking supervisor, was also aware of those incidents.

Late Tuesday morning, Teel told the jury he never intended to harm inmate Jesse Lee Williams Jr.

As for his assault on Williams, Teel testified for the most part he only used department approved strike tactics. He testified he never hit or kicked Williams in the head. He said the only unauthorized blows were several punches to William's stomach, which Teel said he inflicted after Williams angered him by kicking him in the groin.

Teel's cross examination continues this afternoon. Steve Phillips is in the courtroom and will have more later today on WLOX News and WLOX.com.

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