TBI investigating Washington County inmate death

Becky Campbell • Apr 5, 2012 at 3:52 PM

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is asking questions about how a man died in January, five days after being injured while in custody at the Washington County Detention Center.

TBI spokesman Kristin Helm confirmed the investigation into the death of Charles E. Williams, 55, of Johnson City.

A court document indicates Williams was being combative at the jail and restrained by detention officers.

“We were requested to open a case in March,” Helm said. An autopsy report showed Williams suffered a head injury, she said.

According to Helm, Williams was arrested by Johnson City police on Jan. 6 and taken to the Washington County Detention Center.

“Soon after he arrived at the jail he was transported to the Johnson City Medical Center to receive treatment.”

Williams died five days later on Jan. 11.

Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal said since the TBI is investigating, he is not in a position to comment on the incident.

“At this point we really can’t say anything. We requested TBI to investigate to make sure we did everything right,” he said.

Graybeal did say he wasn’t immediately informed after Williams died.

“He wasn’t in our custody anymore, and we normally don’t do a press release on anything like that,” he said.

A court record filed in Washington County Circuit Court shows Williams was arrested around 10:30 a.m. at 302 W. Maple Street on a public intoxication charge.

Johnson City Police Officer Dennis Higgins responded to the call and wrote in the affidavit that Williams was causing a disturbance at that location.

“Emergency personnel responded initially but discovered he was intoxicated and uncooperative,” Higgins wrote.

He said Williams smelled strongly of alcohol and need assistance from officers to walk.

“Once we arrived at the Washington County Detention Center, the defendant had to be restrained by detention personnel because he was combative,” Higgins wrote in the court document.

No other details about the incident were available Thursday.

“The case is open and ongoing,” Helm said.

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