Multiple officers were injured while stopping a series inmate fights June 14 at Wyoming Correctional Facility in Attica, according to the union representing the officers.
The incidents began when inmates started fighting during a move involving the mess hall, officials at the New York State Corrections Officers Police Benevolent Association said in a news release.
The inmates ignored orders from prison staff and fought with officers trying to break up the fight, NYSCOPBA officials said. Multiple uses of pepper spray were needed when an inmate grabbed an officer’s arm, while struggling violently and kicking staff attempting to restrain him while he on the ground.
Two officers were injured in the incident. They were treated for neck, hip, shoulder and back pain, along with scrapes to the face, at Wyoming County Community Hospital.
More incidents followed, including:
—An officer making rounds in a dormitory recreation area heard a commotion inside.
The officer witnessed two inmates fighting, with one picking up a chair and striking the other inmate several times in the head and body. Pepper spray was administered and had the desired effect and the inmates stopped fighting.
But two other inmates began fighting immediately afterward in the dorm and ignored orders to stop, before pepper spray was used again.
A search of the living area recovered a metal bar and two mop handles used in the attacks. Two of the inmates involved were transferred to the neighboring Attica Correctional Facility.
— Two officers were conducting an inmate count an a dorm when one inmate walked away and refused orders to return to his cube. When staff approached him, he allegedly took an aggressive stance against one officer and struck him in the chest.
A response was called and the inmate was given orders to put his hands on the wall for a pat frisk. The aggressive inmate allegedly struck the officer a second time in the chest before staff grabbed him in body holds and forced him to the ground.
Once on the ground, the inmate became compliant. He was removed from the dorm and transferred to Five Points Correctional Facility.
— Five inmates were transferred to Attica Correctional Facility after an investigation revealed they were involved in a fight, with several injured in the process, NYSCOPBA officials said.
Prison staff had initially located an inmate in the shower with a broken hand. The inmate said he had fallen and struck his hand on the floor.
It was later determined that the injures occurred during a fight with another inmate.
— Three officers were injured after an inmate allegedly created a disturbance in a dorm and attempted to spit on an officer who approached him.
The inmate was placed in body holds and forced to the ground. Once on the ground and compliant, he was brought to his feet and was being escorted out of the dorm when he broke free from staff and ran to the back of the dorm
Staff tackled the inmate to the ground twice and he continued to fight and kick officers who were trying to restrain him. Pepper spray was then used.
One officer suffered a sprained shoulder and muscle strain. He was taken to WCCH for treatment.
The other two injured officers were treated by facility medical staff and remained on duty.
The attacks were the latest in a series statewide. NYSCOPBA has blamed the violence on the State Legislature’s HALT act. The legislation took effect April 1, limiting solitary confinement and other disciplinary measures against violent inmates.
“The governor is calling back legislators to Albany for a special session on gun control on Thursday,” said Kenny Gold, NYSCOPBA Western Region Vice President. “While they are in session, they should address the meteoric rise in violence in our state correctional facilities and take immediate action to address it as well as the disastrous HALT Act they passed last April that has only contributed to staff getting injured in violent inmate attacks.
“All they need to do is look at what occurred at Wyoming Correctional Facility in one day to realize the violence is out of control,” he continued. “They need to address it immediately and the public should demand no less.”