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Authorities investigating jail assault that sent inmate to hospital

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, at 3:03 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, at 4:36 p.m.

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The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the assault of an inmate so severe the victim spent two nights in the hospital, Sheriff Jeff Easter said Tuesday.

The incident occurred sometime Friday inside an inmate pod at the Sedgwick County Jail, Easter said. The inmate began vomiting shortly before 10 p.m. Friday, attracting the attention and concern of detention deputies.

The 38-year-old inmate told the detention deputies that he had fallen and hit his head, Easter said, and the inmate had a visible bruise. Detention deputies regularly monitored his condition and noted that he seemed to be worsening.

Early Saturday morning, Easter said, jail medical staff were asked to assess the inmate’s condition and they recommended he be taken to a local hospital for treatment.

“While at the hospital, the inmate divulged to hospital staff – not to us – that he’d actually been assaulted,” Easter said.

There was gambling going on in the pod, and another inmate became upset with the victim and struck his head against a cinder block wall.

Authorities were notified, Easter said, and the inmate gave the name of a 33-year-old inmate at the jail. The victim of the alleged assault was kept in the hospital for observation for two nights and placed in a protective cell upon his return to the jail.

The suspect in the reported assault has been moved to a segregation cell away from other inmates as the investigation continues, Easter said. The two men involved in the incident shared a pod but not a cell, he said.

Results of the investigation will be presented to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office, which will decide whether charges are warranted.

“It takes the victim wanting to prosecute for us to be able to charge,” Easter said.

Investigators are also looking into the gambling that has been reported.

“We’re still investigating that part of it,” he said. “There are certain things he wants to tell us about and certain things he doesn’t.”

Gambling is “one of those things you’re not supposed to do” in the jail, Easter said.

The sheriff’s office will aggressively investigate incidents involving inmates, such as assaults, he said.

“We are going to hold those inmates accountable” when offenses occur, Easter said.

He’s already heard from inmates who are “very happy that that’s happened,” he said. “They’re afraid while they’re in here.

“We should not be afraid of other inmates or other staff while you’re housed in here,” he said of the jail.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com.

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