Mug shot released of former Harris County jail officer charged in inmate's beating death

Jaquaree Simmons was behind bars after being charged with a felon in possession of a firearm.

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Thursday, February 9, 2023
Mug shot released of former jail officer charged in inmate death
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A judge set a $100,000 bond for Eric Morales, a former Harris County Jail officer charged in connection with Jaquaree Simmons' death behind bars.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Authorities released the mug shot of a former detention officer charged with the beating death of an inmate back in 2021.

Eric Morales was a no show in court on Monday, but he was given a $100,000 bond after facing charges of second degree felony manslaughter.

The charge stems from Jaquaree Simmons' death back in 2021, but it also comes on the heels of an Eyewitness News investigation revealing a record-breaking number of inmate deaths at the jail last year.

Morales was among the 11 employees fired as a result of the sheriff's office internal investigation, and Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said more charges could be filed in the case. Morales is the first former correction officer to be charged in connection to an inmate's death in Harris County.

SEE MORE: 13 Investigates: Decade-high inmate deaths just one concern at Harris Co. jail

Court documents showed Morales caused the injuries that killed Simmons, but it took two years and multiple grand jury proceedings to get an indictment for manslaughter.

"Indictment charges: The 6-foot-5, 260-pound defendant detention officer for assaulting a 5-foot-4, 120-pound complainant by kneeing him in the head, striking his head against a door, dropping the complainant on his head, resulting in his death," officials read in court on Monday.

None of the 1,490 cameras inside the jail at the time captured video of the confrontation that led to Simmons' death, but the sheriff's office alone completed 73 interviews.

Simmons' was incarcerated for allegedly possessing a weapon as a felon, but we spoke to his mother, and she said he did not deserve to die for what he did. That message was echoed by the district attorney's office, as four more incarcerated people have died at the Harris County Jail just this year.

SEE MORE: 11 Harris County Sheriff's Office employees fired after inmate's death; 6 suspended