No wrongdoing found in Washington County jail inmate death

Becky Campbell • Jun 12, 2012 at 1:21 PM

The investigation into a Johnson City man’s death five days after he fell inside the Washington County Detention Center earlier this year is over.

District Attorney General Tony Clark said he received a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation report about two weeks ago and also presented the information to a grand jury. He said the TBI and grand jury panel both determined there was no wrongdoing on the part of Washington County detention officers or the Johnson City police officer who arrested Charles Williams.

Williams, 55, died Jan. 11 at the Johnson City Medical Center from a head injury.

Clark said it’s his policy to always ask the TBI to investigate an inmate death to ensure there were no issues.

“The bottom line is any time there’s an inmate death, whether it’s by the hands of another inmate, a correction officer or self-inflicted,” there will be an investigation, Clark said.

According to the investigation file, Williams was found intoxicated and lying on the ground by a Johnson City police officer, who then arrested Williams.

A court document indicates Williams was being combative when JCPD arrived at the jail, and he was restrained by detention officers.

Clark said the investigation shows that Williams was placed in a cell — one he called the “drunk tank” — in the booking area.

“He fell in the drunk tank and hit his head,” Clark said. At that point, detention officers called for an ambulance and Williams was taken to the hospital.

That was Jan. 6 and Williams died Jan. 11.

“I sent it to the grand jury and the grand jury found no reason for further investigation,” he said.

Clark said he has spoken with Williams’ family about the matter.

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