Brutality suit tossed without a settlement

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A $2-million jail brutality lawsuit against Lee County, Tupelo, jail and police officials was dismissed Monday without settlement.
The case, brought by Larry J. Waites, also spawned a job action lawsuit by a sheriff’s employee, who was fired after she witnessed and reported the beating.
“It’s over,” said attorney John Hill, who represented the city. “It appears that Mr. Waites and his attorney just decided it wasn’t in their best interests to continue with the lawsuit.”
Waites was arrested after a traffic stop on Nov. 25, 2006 for, among other things, first-offense driving under the influence. Six police cruisers transported or escorted him to the Lee County Jail, where he alleges he was illegally strip searched and assaulted with fists and Tasers.
Waites filed his lawsuit Nov. 25, 2009, claiming deprivation of his constitutional rights. He said he suffered severe pain, lost wages and mental stress from the incident.
Monday’s order in U.S. District Court stated that both sides asked for the court to dismiss the lawsuit “with prejudice,” which means it cannot be brought again.
Attorneys for Waites and Lee County could not be reached for comment.
In a subsequent lawsuit, Shelia Shumpert alleged that she was fired from her job at the Lee County Juvenile Detention Center when she witnessed Waites’ beating, reported it to her supervisor and a Tupelo Police official, City Councilwoman Nettie Davis and then an attorney.
Sheriff Jim Johnson and other jail officials insisted she violated department policy by her contacts. In June 2008, a federal jury awarded Shumpert $34,000.
Later the award was settled to help Shumpert, who faced financial difficulties in a lengthy appeal process.