A Texas sheriff fired 11 jail employees and suspended six others without pay this week over the death of an inmate who was allegedly stripped and beaten by officers.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez announced Friday that the employees "betrayed my trust and the trust of our community."
Jaquaree Simmons reportedly had three altercations with detention officers in mid-February, according to an internal investigation conducted by the sheriff's office.
Simmons was in jail on weapons charges and had only been there for a week when the abuse occurred, according to KTRK.
On Feb. 16, Simmons allegedly clogged his toilet with his clothes and after officers cleaned the cell that had flooded, they returned him to his cell without clothes, a policy violation that was not reported.
Major Thomas Diaz of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office who led the investigation said, according to KTRK:
When removing an inmates clothes, you're supposed to advise a supervisor, you're supposed to increase the rate in which you conduct visual checks, and you're supposed to provide a suicide smock. None of those occurred.
After throwing his meal tray at an an officer and charging at them, Simmons was allegedly hit in the face by the officer, according to authorities. After several other officers were asked to take him in for a medical evaluation, they struck him in the head multiple times, Diaz said.
Simmons told a jail doctor he was not in any pain, and was returned to his cell. Officers did not bring him back to the clinic for follow-up X-rays and he was found unresponsive in his cell on Feb. 17. He died in a hospital later that day.
Simmons death was ruled a homicide by medical examiners.
Diaz said the officers who were fired were in violation of department policies, which included excessive force, failing to document the use of force, not intervening when another officer used force and making false statements to investigators, Diaz said.
The sheriff said that suspended officers must "exhibit immediate and consistent compliance with and adherence to all sheriff’s office policies" or they could face additional discipline or termination.
Gonzalez said in a news conference:
They abused their authority. Their conduct toward Mr. Simmons was reprehensible. They showed complete disregard for the safety and wellbeing of a person they were directly responsible for protecting. They escalated rather than de-escalated the situation. Their conduct was unacceptable and inexcusable and their acts discredit them, the sheriff’s office and their fellow employees. None of them deserve to wear to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Patch ever again.
Simmons' mother said she wants those responsible for the death of her son to be arrested.