[StBernard] Investigation launched into inmate's death

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Wed Jul 30 20:34:25 EDT 2008

Investigation launched into inmate's death
Jailed in St. Bernard, he died in hospital Wednesday, July 30, 2008By Bob
St. Bernard Parish law enforcement authorities have opened an investigation
into the death of a man who was transported from the parish jail to a New
Orleans hospital.

Ryan Williams, 29, of Chalmette, died Saturday at University Hospital, an
attorney representing his wife said. Williams had surgery to relieve
swelling in his brain on July 16 after being brought to the hospital from
St. Bernard Parish Prison, said the attorney, Rhett Spano of Baton Rouge.

An autopsy performed by the Orleans Parish coroner's office showed the cause
of death was bleeding in his skull, said Dr. Bryan Bertucci, St. Bernard
Parish coroner. Bertucci said there was a bruise on the back of Williams'
scalp and on the front of his brain, likely from his brain hitting the front
of his skull. Bertucci said there was no other trauma on Williams' body.

Spano said Williams' family wants to know how he injured his head and are
concerned that he might have been beaten.

Williams was arrested July 13 and booked with simple battery, simple
assault, disturbing the peace and criminal damage to property after a
disturbance at his mother's house in Chalmette. According to the arrest
report, Williams' mother told deputies that he was a heavy drinker and that
he had grabbed her and punched a hole in the wall of her home. Spano said
his bond was $50,000.

On July 16, other prisoners alerted guards that Williams was having a
"seizure," said Jimmy Pohlmann, chief deputy for the St. Bernard Parish
Sheriff's Office. The prisoners told guards they saw Williams fall, Pohlmann

Pohlmann said an ambulance was called immediately and took Williams to
University Hospital.

On July 17, the Sheriff's Office released Williams on a $5,000 recognizance
bond while he was hospitalized, Pohlmann said. Pohlmann said he didn't know
Williams had died until asked about it Monday by news organizations.

Spano said Williams survived the surgery on July 16, but suffered a stroke
several days later.

Pohlmann said he doesn't know of any evidence that Williams had been beaten
in jail. He said a deputy had also found Williams in a ditch, incoherent, on
July 12 and had called an ambulance to take him to the hospital. He did not
know the outcome of that visit to the hospital.

. . . . . . .

Bob Warren can be reached at bwarren at timespicayune.com or 504.826.3363.

More information about the StBernard mailing list