Ex-guard pleads guilty, accepts plea agreement

By Sky Opila

After three continuances for an expected plea bargain, William Alan Myers plead guilty to charges of felony disorderly conduct and a misdemeanor charge of aggravated battery, Monday afternoon.

Myers plead guilty to charges that he excessively used a Taser against an inmate, Ray Hsieh, in a Champaign County Jail in November 2005.

According to the agreed upon bargain, Myers will serve 24 months of probation and must do 100 hours of community service in the first 20 months of his probation, among other stipulations. Additionally, the agreement dropped the counts of felony aggravated battery and obstruction of justice, both initially filed against Myers. They were stricken from the record.

“Alan and I decided it was in his best interest to accept the plea agreement, although he has paid a heavy price in that he is unlikely to ever work in law enforcement again,” Myers’ attorney Tony Novak said in a written statement.

On Nov. 14, 2005, Hsieh had to be restrained by correctional officers after fighting with an inmate. Pepper spray was used while breaking up the fight and Hsieh was taken to the shower room to wash the spray out. However, Hsieh reportedly was falling to the ground and hitting his head repeatedly. Officers decided it was best to place him in a restraint chair, designed to prevent the movement of an inmate’s arms and legs, according to the evidence provided by the State’s Attorney.

    Sign up for our newsletter!

    Myers, with the title sergeant and shift commander at the time, checked out a Taser after Hsieh had already been restrained in the chair, ordered other officers to leave the room and reportedly Tased Hsieh.

    According to his statement at the time, Myers said that he released Hsieh from the restraint chair because he was complaining of the handcuffs being too tight, at which point Myers said Hsieh became combative with officers and the use of a Taser became necessary. However, Myers later admitted to falsifying his reports about the incident.

    “(Myers) was attempting to control an extremely disruptive inmate through use of a Taser,” Novak stated. “He failed to follow protocol and then attempted to cover up his violation, ultimately admitting the false report as contained in the charge of disorderly conduct.”

    In addition to this incident, Myers allegedly used excessive force with a Taser against Michael Rich, Trina Fairley and Michael Alexander. However, no court action or further investigation is expected to take place on those three accounts.

    The use of Tasers in Champaign jails has been debated since their purchase in 2003. Recently, the Champaign County Board Justice and Social Services Committee heard a report from Sheriff Dan Walsh about policy and procedure regarding the use of Tasers in the Champaign County Jails and entertained comments regarding the issue from community members.

    Nationally, the use of Tasers has been questioned after a video from UCLA surfaced showing a student being Tased repeatedly by UCLA police officers after he did not present an ID card at the library.