Security gaffe at local jail leads to investigation
WEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Dramatic surveillance video obtained by the Miami Herald of an inmate as the target of a knife attack at Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center has led to an internal investigation.
Surveillance video from June 14 shows all the computerized, automatic doors of single-occupant cells at the prison's maximum security wing opening at once just before the fracas and a shirtless inmate becoming the target of a knife attack. According to the Herald, an internal investigation is underway to determine how the security gaffe happened and whether corrections officers were in on it.
"Those who are responsible for the product liability for how the cells open and close are claiming that this was an error on the part of corrections," said JC Dugue, the attorney for the shirtless inmate, identified as Kenneth Williams. "Intentionally, they may have pressed the button to open all the jail cells."
The footage shows two inmates exiting their cells immediately after the doors slide open. One of them, wearing a white T-shirt and orange pants, walks towards the camera and out of view. The other, wearing a white T-shirt and darker pants, walks on the opposite direction, away from the camera. Moments later, the first inmate walks back into view and follows the second inmate down the hall and around the corner.
A different security camera shows the inmate in the darker pants and a third man in a black do-rag appearing to hold a sharp object as they corner Williams, who then makes a run for it. He is followed by the two inmates who cornered him, the first inmate seen leaving his cell in the orange pants, and a fourth inmate.
The footage then shows Williams and his pursuers turning a corner and winding up in the same hallway from where the first two inmates left their cells. Williams is then seen hoisting up his pants and opting to jump from the second story balcony. Video shows Williams wailing in pain on the first floor and clinging to the ankle of another prisoner, identified as Rafael Andres, who appears to be helping him. The footage shows Williams, still on the floor, passing what appears to be a sharp object to Andres.
Dugue said his client suffered a broken vertebrae and ankle after jumping to get away from his alleged aggressors, who are identified, according to The Miami Herald, as Junior Pascal, Jay Stubbs, Richard Holt and Quincy Taylor.
Williams is currently awaiting trial on a witness tampering charge. He is said to be a member of a notorious Liberty City gang. He was arrested on that charge connected to the 2008 killing of a 10-month-old baby. He will appear in court next Monday, his lawyer said, sitting in a wheelchair.
As for the fight caught on camera, it was quickly dispersed after corrections officers whipped out pepper spray. They ended up confiscating at least two shanks.
Commissioner Sally Heyman, the chair of the Public Safety Committee, is demanding answers from investigators. "If there was wrongdoing, whether it was gross negligence on behalf of someone who's in construction, makes a faulty product, or the labor, or someone that works in corrections did something wrong, that's criminal, and that should be prosecuted," she said.
Janelle Hall, manager of the Community Affairs Office at the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department released a statement addressing the security incident on June 14 early Tuesday afternoon that reads:
"The incident which occurred in June 2013 at the Turner Guilford Knight ("TGK") facility is part of an ongoing criminal and MDCR internal investigation and pursuant to Florida State Statutes and departmental policy may not be commented on until the investigation(s) cease to be active. No information related to the incident has been officially and/or authorized to be released by MDCR and may not accurately relay the totality of events."
I.E. Newton, III, the president of Black Creek Integrated Systems, the company that installed the new security system, released a statement that read in part: "We have previously provided MDCR with detailed computer logs documenting the sequence of events that occurred during the incident on a second by second basis. The logs clearly indicate that the security system was operating properly."
The recently installed system has a reported cost of one million dollars.
The Miami-Dade Police Department is now reportedly involved in the investigation.
The is not the first time the Miami-Dade Corrections Department has been the center of an investigation. Last week, 7News investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero looked into corrections officers parking in spaces reserved for disabled drivers.
Carmel's report is catching the attention of some key players, and they are not happy. Carmel is back on the case, tonight at 10.
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