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Inmate Surprises and Assaults Corrections Deputies

Event Summary

 

On 3/15/17 at around 0100, [an inmate]* was out on his recreational time in [housing unit A]. When [Deputy 1] was just completing a module check, [the inmate] ambushed him by suddenly punching him in the face, knocking [Deputy 1] down. The inmate continued the vicious assault, then disengaged. [Deputy 2] heard the commotion and responded. He was met a third of the way up the stairs by the inmate, who then viciously assaulted him. [Deputy 2] did everything he could to get control of the inmate while also protecting himself and his partner.

As [Deputy 2] was being attacked, other corrections deputies and supervisors heard what appeared to be a brief transmission over the radio. The radio traffic wasn’t intelligible, but the nature of it appeared to be someone in a struggle. At that point, [Sergeant 1] asked Central Control Room (CCR) over the radio what was happening. CCR stated over the radio, “[Deputy 2], do you have traffic?” When there was no reply, [Sergeant 1] knew that something was going on that required immediate assistance at [Deputy 2]’s location, which he knew was [housing unit A]. [Sergeant 1] began responding to assist.

As [Sergeant 1] responded, [Sergeant 2] requested CCR to close the air until he could make contact with [Deputy 1] in [housing unit A]. Meanwhile, control room operators determined the location of the radio transmission and investigated the housing unit through rapid camera manipulation. Within 10 seconds of closing the air, CCR reported over the air, “Fight in [housing unit A]. [Deputy 2] is fighting with an inmate! He is on David side.”

The fight between [Deputy 2] and [the inmate] continued as staff were responding. The fight ended up in the corner behind the stairs, where a severely injured [Deputy 1] re-engaged, trying to help his partner.

Within 20 seconds of the CCR radio traffic, [Sergeant 2] arrived at [housing unit A] and observed [Deputy 2], standing up, physically struggling with the inmate and attempting to pin [the inmate] to the dayroom wall. [Deputy 1] was standing by [a cell], holding his head with a four-foot splatter of blood around his immediate area. His face was cut and his entire face was beginning to swell.

[Sergeant 2] drew his department issued Taser and deployed probes from a range of between 8 to 10 feet. One probe struck [the inmate] in the chest, but the sergeant could not see where the other probe struck. The Taser application had no effect on [the inmate]. At that point, [the inmate] balled up his fists and charged at the sergeant while swinging. The sergeant managed to block the initial strike, but the momentum of the charge knocked the sergeant down to the ground with [the inmate] on top. [The inmate] attempted to stand up to swing at the sergeant with his right hand, so the sergeant wrapped his legs around [the inmate]’s torso and pulled [the inmate] into his guard. The sergeant worked his legs up to [the inmate]’s shoulders and attempted to isolate [the inmate]’s right arm in an arm bar. [The inmate] continued his attempts to stand and to move his arms away from the sergeant’s lower torso in order to strike him. At this point, [Sergeant 2] switched his Taser to his left hand and deployed a drive stun to [the inmate]’s left calf, prompting the inmate to stop his attempts to strike the sergeant.

Within 10 seconds of executing the drive stun, [Sergeant 1] arrived on scene with a response team, and the deputies pulled [the inmate] off of [Sergeant 2], who now could not see after being struck by residual OC. As deputies tried to subdue the inmate, [Sergeant 1] noted that [the inmate] was still actively resisting efforts to be restrained. Fearing that [the inmate] may assault additional staff, [Sergeant 1] removed his Taser and fired. The probes struck [the inmate] in the upper back between the shoulder blades, and his shoulders and back area locked up. After the Taser cycle was completed, [Sergeant 1] heard [the inmate] state something to the effect that he was done. Staff quickly secured [the inmate] in restraints while additional staff removed [Deputy 2], [Deputy 1], and [Sergeant 2] away from the incident to get them immediate medical attention.

Both [Deputy 1] and [Deputy 2] were taken to the hospital and released to their families approximately 6 hours later. Both Deputies are in very good spirits. I am inspired and in absolute awe of the courage, dedication to our profession, and dedication to each other that these two awesome Deputies displayed on this night. Patrol immediately responded to conduct the criminal investigation and provided support that was second to none. The care and concern that they showed our team was phenomenal. It goes without saying that [the inmate] is a very violent and dangerous individual and extreme caution should be exercised whenever staff are around him. [The inmate] has been made a 3 corrections deputy detail with Taser and camera available whenever staff interact with him.

*[Brackets] denote de-identification by reviewers during the report review process.

 

Lessons Learned

 
  • Pay attention to pre-indicators of attacks. In two inmate-on-staff assaults in the last six months at the facility, the inmates nervously paced back and forth before initiating the assault on staff.
  • The incident serves as a reminder to maintain situational awareness, not only of your own surroundings, but also of the locations of your fellow officers. Prior to the Central Control Room (CCR) alerting officers to the exact location of the fight, supervisors and deputies already knew the general location of the deputies presumed to be in trouble and started responding.
  • All personnel should be cognizant of unusual radio traffic and not ignore traffic that is not clear. In this incident, staff recognized an unusual transmission and immediately inquired. This enabled the CCR to immediately isolate the area of the assault and direct responding units to assist.
  • In this incident, a Deputy was being assaulted while being pinned to the ground, and he instinctively used a good technique to defend himself. All corrections staff should receive mandatory ground combat and advanced defensive tactics training during their initial staff training. Annual in-service training should provide refresher and new defensive tactics training to all members of a correctional facility.
  • All corrections deputies/housing unit officers should be equipped with conducted energy devices (e.g., Tasers) to assist in controlling subjects when necessary.
Changes as a result of that experience (what would you do differently?):
  • Following both cases of inmate-on-staff assaults in the last six months, we have been working with our mental health professionals to identify any sort of pattern of behavior that could lead to or help predict a future assault.
  • Since this incident, we have created an advanced defensive tactics course, which is available to all of our staff in addition to the required defensive tactics.
 
Full Report

Inmate Surprises and Assaults Corrections Deputies

 

 

Employer Information
 

Type of law enforcement agency: Sheriff’s Office – Full Service

 

Involved Person Info
 

Role: Sworn Officer

Years of experience in law enforcement: More than 10, but less than 15

 

Incident Information
 

Type of call / Reason for response: In-custody Event

Incident Initiated by: Inmate

Date: March 2017

Please classify this incident (Check all that apply): Resulted in injury or death

Who was injured/killed? Inmate and Corrections Deputies sustained injuries

How many total fatalities? 0

How many officers were on the scene at the time of the near miss or incident? 2

Incident Summary:

On 3/15/17 at around 0100, [an inmate] was out on his recreational time in [housing unit A]. When [Deputy 1] was just completing a module check, [the inmate] ambushed him by suddenly punching him in the face, knocking [Deputy 1] down. The inmate continued the vicious assault, then disengaged. [Deputy 2] heard the commotion and responded. He was met a third of the way up the stairs by the inmate, who then viciously assaulted him. [Deputy 2] did everything he could to get control of the inmate while also protecting himself and his partner.

As [Deputy 2] was being attacked, other corrections deputies and supervisors heard what appeared to be a brief transmission over the radio. The radio traffic wasn’t intelligible, but the nature of it appeared to be someone in a struggle. At that point, [Sergeant 1] asked Central Control Room (CCR) over the radio what was happening. CCR stated over the radio, “[Deputy 2], do you have traffic?” When there was no reply, [Sergeant 1] knew that something was going on that required immediate assistance at [Deputy 2]’s location, which he knew was [housing unit A]. [Sergeant 1] began responding to assist.

As [Sergeant 1] responded, [Sergeant 2] requested CCR to close the air until he could make contact with [Deputy 1] in [housing unit A]. Meanwhile, control room operators determined the location of the radio transmission and investigated the housing unit through rapid camera manipulation. Within 10 seconds of closing the air, CCR reported over the air, “Fight in [housing unit A]. [Deputy 2] is fighting with an inmate! He is on David side.”

The fight between [Deputy 2] and [the inmate] continued as staff were responding. The fight ended up in the corner behind the stairs, where a severely injured [Deputy 1] re-engaged, trying to help his partner.

Within 20 seconds of the CCR radio traffic, [Sergeant 2] arrived at [housing unit A] and observed [Deputy 2], standing up, physically struggling with the inmate and attempting to pin [the inmate] to the dayroom wall. [Deputy 1] was standing by [a cell], holding his head with a four-foot splatter of blood around his immediate area. His face was cut and his entire face was beginning to swell.

[Sergeant 2] drew his department issued Taser and deployed probes from a range of between 8 to 10 feet. One probe struck [the inmate] in the chest, but the sergeant could not see where the other probe struck. The Taser application had no effect on [the inmate]. At that point, [the inmate] balled up his fists and charged at the sergeant while swinging. The sergeant managed to block the initial strike, but the momentum of the charge knocked the sergeant down to the ground with [the inmate] on top. [The inmate] attempted to stand up to swing at the sergeant with his right hand, so the sergeant wrapped his legs around [the inmate]’s torso and pulled [the inmate] into his guard. The sergeant worked his legs up to [the inmate]’s shoulders and attempted to isolate [the inmate]’s right arm in an arm bar. [The inmate] continued his attempts to stand and to move his arms away from the sergeant’s lower torso in order to strike him. At this point, [Sergeant 2] switched his Taser to his left hand and deployed a drive stun to [the inmate]’s left calf, prompting the inmate to stop his attempts to strike the sergeant.

Within 10 seconds of executing the drive stun, [Sergeant 1] arrived on scene with a response team, and the deputies pulled [the inmate] off of [Sergeant 2], who now could not see after being struck by residual OC. As deputies tried to subdue the inmate, [Sergeant 1] noted that [the inmate] was still actively resisting efforts to be restrained. Fearing that [the inmate] may assault additional staff, [Sergeant 1] removed his Taser and fired. The probes struck [the inmate] in the upper back between the shoulder blades, and his shoulders and back area locked up. After the Taser cycle was completed, [Sergeant 1] heard [the inmate] state something to the effect that he was done. Staff quickly secured [the inmate] in restraints while additional staff removed [Deputy 2], [Deputy 1], and [Sergeant 2] away from the incident to get them immediate medical attention.

Both [Deputy 1] and [Deputy 2] were taken to the hospital and released to their families approximately 6 hours later. Both Deputies are in very good spirits. I am inspired and in absolute awe of the courage, dedication to our profession, and dedication to each other that these two awesome Deputies displayed on this night. Patrol immediately responded to conduct the criminal investigation and provided support that was second to none. The care and concern that they showed our team was phenomenal. It goes without saying that [the inmate] is a very violent and dangerous individual and extreme caution should be exercised whenever staff are around him. [The inmate] has been made a 3 corrections deputy detail with Taser and camera available whenever staff interact with him.

 

Location Information
 

What type of location was this? Corrections Facility

What were the environmental conditions? Indoor, lighted

 

Lessons Learned
 

Please describe what type of accident or incident was averted:

Thankfully, there were no fatalities. Without the quick response and intervention by the second deputy, the assault on the initial deputy could have ended very badly.

What were the contributing factors that almost led to or did lead to serious injury or death?

  • Fatigue
  • Complacency

Describe the lessons learned:

  • Pay attention to pre-indicators of attacks. In two inmate-on-staff assaults in the last six months at the facility, the inmates nervously paced back and forth before initiating the assault on staff.
  • The incident serves as a reminder to maintain situational awareness, not only of your own surroundings, but also of the locations of your fellow officers. Prior to the Central Control Room (CCR) alerting officers to the exact location of the fight, supervisors and deputies already knew the general location of the deputies presumed to be in trouble and started responding.
  • All personnel should be cognizant of unusual radio traffic and not ignore traffic that is not clear. In this incident, staff recognized an unusual transmission and immediately inquired. This enabled the CCR to immediately isolate the area of the assault and direct responding units to assist.
  • In this incident, a Deputy was being assaulted while being pinned to the ground, and he instinctively used a good technique to defend himself. All corrections staff should receive mandatory ground combat and advanced defensive tactics training during their initial staff training. Annual in-service training should provide refresher and new defensive tactics training to all members of a correctional facility.
  • All corrections deputies/housing unit officers should be equipped with conducted energy devices (e.g., Tasers) to assist in controlling subjects when necessary.

Changes as a result of that experience (what would you do differently?):

  • Following both cases of inmate-on-staff assaults in the last six months, we have been working with our mental health professionals to identify any sort of pattern of behavior that could lead to or help predict a future assault.
  • Since this incident, we have created an advanced defensive tactics course, which is available to all of our staff in addition to the required defensive tactics.


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