Warn­ing shots fired in prison as­sault

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - JOHN MORITZ

Three warn­ing shots were fired by cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers re­spond­ing to a re­ported stab­bing in a soli­tary con­fine­ment area at the Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Unit in Tucker last month, ac­cord­ing to a pris­ons spokesman.

Two cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers were as­saulted try­ing to hand­cuff an in­mate, but nei­ther they nor the stabbed pris­oner needed out­side med­i­cal at­ten­tion, the spokesman said.

The Arkansas State Po­lice is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the July 22 in­ci­dent, but the Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tion says it was not in­formed of the shots fired un­til it was re­ported Mon­day by the Arkansas Times.

At least two in­mates made it out of their sin­gle-man cages in the prison’s iso­la­tion recre­ational area, ac­cord­ing to Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tion spokesman Solomon Graves.

From there they were able to breach the cage of a fel­low in­mate, who was stabbed.

Cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers re­spond­ing to the in­ci­dent were as­saulted as they at­tempted to hand­cuff one of the out-of­bounds in­mates.

That’s when the three warn­ing shots were fired, Graves said.

The in­juries suf­fered by the of­fi­cers and the in­mate in­clude cuts, lac­er­a­tions, abra­sions and bruis­ing, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment Graves re­leased Tues­day.

It’s un­clear what kind of weapon was used in the stab­bing, he said in a later phone in­ter­view.

Cor­rec­tions of­fi­cers were able to get the sit­u­a­tion un­der con­trol and re­turn the prison to nor­mal op­er­a­tions, Graves said. State po­lice were called “im­me­di­ately” after­ward, he said.

The call to state po­lice came in at 9:10 a.m. Satur­day, July 22, ac­cord­ing to agency spokesman Bill Sadler.

Spe­cial agents at the Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tion are pre­par­ing an in­ves­tiga­tive file to give to the Jef­fer­son County pros­e­cu­tor. It’s un­clear if charges are ex­pected.

Graves said the Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tion is con­duct­ing its own “par­al­lel” in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the events, in­clud­ing what State Po­lice were told and staff ac­tions after the fight.

Asked about pol­icy re­gard­ing shots being fired, Graves pointed to a prison rule stat­ing that deadly force, in­clud­ing dis­charg­ing a weapon, may be used to pre­vent se­ri­ous in­jury or death, or an es­cape.

Graves said no of­fi­cers have been placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave, which is up to the dis­cre­tion of the depart­ment di­rec­tor.

He de­clined to name the in­mates in­volved, pend­ing the out­come of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Unit is a 532-bed prison down the road from a sep­a­rate fa­cil­ity, the Tucker Unit, in Jef­fer­son County.

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