Darius Williams, a 27-year-old Texas resident, is alleging in a federal lawsuit that the Madison County, Miss., sheriff and four deputies assaulted him while he was handcuffed in a cell at the Madison County Detention Center.
The lawsuit names Sheriff Randy Tucker, Deputy John Love, Deputy John McDonald (referred to as Justin McDonald in a defense filing) and two “John Doe deputies.” The complaint does not claim Tucker was involved in the alleged attack but does accuse him of “negligence” for his deputies’ alleged actions.
Williams’ lawyer, Carlos Moore, said he hopes the lawsuit will help prevent other incarcerated people from facing assault in jail.
“We’ve seen all the problems with the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department in the metro area, but the problems are pretty significant in Madison County as well,” the attorney told the Mississippi Free Press on Dec. 4. “So people need to know that when their loved ones go into the correctional system in Madison County, they could be assaulted by the jailers or the deputies.”
Williams’ complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, alleges that Love, McDonald and the two “John Doe deputies” assaulted him using “excessive physical force” while he was in his cell and wearing handcuffs on Feb. 2, 2022.
The lawsuit alleges that the deputies then put Williams on lockdown in his cell and that he received medical attention but officials did not transfer him to a hospital. Williams suffered two broken jaws during the alleged assault, the complaint says, and he later had to have surgery to put plates in his jaws to repair them.
A spokesperson for the Madison County Sheriff’s Department told the Mississippi Free Press on Friday, Dec. 1, that the department does not comment on ongoing litigation.
The Wise Carter Child & Caraway law firm is representing Madison County, Tucker and McDonald in the case. The Mississippi Free Press asked the firm for comment, but a spokesperson said on Friday that the lawyers do not speak on ongoing lawsuits.
The lawsuit alleges that the deputies’ actions were an “unconstitutional violation” of Williams’ 4th and 14th Amendment rights and that he “suffered serious injuries, pain and suffering, and fear of impending death.” It alleges that the sheriff and deputies failed to provide adequate medical care afterward.
The complaint says Tucker had a duty to train and supervise the four deputies at the Madison County Sheriff’s Department.
“Sheriff Tucker was also responsible for ensuring that Mr. Williams was kept safe, and there was no violation of his constitutional rights,” it says. “Sheriff Tucker failed to keep Plaintiff safe from harm caused by the acts of those under his command.”
Williams is asking for $1 million. Moore said he and Williams are also hoping the Madison County deputies get better training and that officials put policies in place to prevent future incidents.
“I’ve also informed the (U.S.) Justice Department of the cases I’ve had in Madison County against the sheriff’s department to let them know that something is amiss there as well, and they may need to shine a light of day on that county as well,” Moore said.
Williams is requesting a jury trial.
Correction: An early version misquoted Carlos Moore as saying “light of faith.” He said “light of day.” We apologize for the error.