Responsible for killing an inmate after stripping him naked and repeatedly beating him during a severe winter storm, eleven Texas jail employees were recently fired while six other officers have been suspended. According to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, the detention officers used excessive force, failed to document any use of force, made false statements, and assaulted the inmate out of view from security cameras.
On February 10, Jaquaree Simmons was incarcerated at the Harris County Jail on a weapons charge. Six days later, Simmons used his clothing to clog the toilet in his cell, which caused it to flood.
As detention officers arrived to clean Simmons’ cell, they allegedly assaulted him without later reporting the use of force against him. After stripping him naked, the guards forced Simmons to remain in his cell on one of the coldest days of the year.
According to detention officers, Simmons reportedly threw his dinner tray at a guard later that night before charging at him. Once again, several officers beat Simmons and repeatedly struck him in the head while later failing to report the use of force against him.
Although Simmons was evaluated by a doctor at a jail clinic, the officers neglected to bring him back to the clinic for follow-up X-rays. After failing to conduct a series of routine visual checks on the inmates, detention officers found Simmons unresponsive in his cell at 12:10 p.m. on February 17.
Simmons was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Medical examiners ruled his death a homicide due to blunt force trauma to the head and a brain bleed. The 23-year-old reportedly did not have any health issues prior to his arrest.
On Friday, the sheriff’s office announced that Detention Officers Garland Barrett, Patricia Brummett, Joshua Dixon, Alysheia Mallety, Israel Martinez, Eric Morales, Alfredo Rodriguez, Daniel Rodriguez, Chadwick Westmoreland, Detention Sgt. Jacob Ramirez, and Deputy Dana Walker have been terminated for their roles in causing Simmons’ death. Six other officers, including four detention officers, one detention sergeant, and one sheriff’s office sergeant, have been placed on unpaid leave due to the investigation.
“They escalated, rather than de-escalated, the situation,” Sheriff Gonzalez said of the employees during a press conference. “Their conduct was unacceptable and inexcusable, and has discredited them, the Sheriff’s Office, and their fellow employees. None of them deserve to wear the Harris County Sheriff’s Office patch ever again.”
“The treatment of Jaquaree Simmons was both inhumane and unconstitutional,” stated Lee Merritt, an attorney representing Simmons’ family. “It reflects a bigger crisis in our criminal justice system when our most vulnerable commit a crime and are treated as second-class citizens instead of protected. The Simmons family is grateful for Sheriff Gonzalez’s action in holding the individuals responsible for Jaquaree Simmons death. Our office will work to make sure these individuals will be held accountable civilly and criminally and we will fight to address and reform the policies and practices that foster and environment of regular abuse.”
Currently, no officers face any criminal charges for causing Simmons’ death.