NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A violent attack on four jail officers left two of them bitten, another with a broken ankle, and the fourth with a broken nose.
Ultimately, it took five officers to restrain the inmate who Sheriff Daron Hall says should not be in the criminal system to begin with because he is mentally ill.
The attack happened Monday night around 10 p.m. at the Maximum Correctional Center on Harding Place in southeast Nashville.
Two officers were escorting medical personnel to an inmate’s cell for a wellness check when it happened.
“He’s in perfect, normal behavior, and then just explodes,” Sheriff Hall told News 2.
The handcuffed inmate first hits an officer in the nose, breaking it.
“He did strike an officer with his fist from the front,” explained Deputy Kirk Hopkins.
He was entering the building with his partner when he heard a code red call, officer needs assistance.
“He appeared to be in a heightened mental state where he didn’t necessarily feel or understand any commands that were being given to him,” said Hopkins.
After punching one deputy and biting another, the inmate then bit Deputy Hopkins in the struggle.
“My hand got to close to his face and he did reach out and bite my hand,” he explained.
Eventually, it took five officers to restrain the inmate.
“We are fortunate it wasn’t more injuries, but people with broken legs and severe bites and injuries and broken bones in a situation that really could have been avoided. We do not need to house people in a criminal justice system because they are mentally ill,” stated the sheriff.
Sheriff Hall says the inmate should have been in a medical facility from the beginning.
“He’s lost in the system called criminal justice when truthfully he’s ill. You would never lose a person with cancer to the jail or lose a person with a heartache to jail, but society put people who are mentally ill in a jail setting.”
The deputy and the Sheriff say physical outbreaks on officers from mentally ill inmates are unfortunately a common occurrence.
“It’s alarming, it’s dangerous, it’s expensive and it’s hidden from everybody and I don’t believe that’s the way we should do it and we want to make sure that people understand that,” said Sheriff Hall.
One of the officers injured is still hospitalized, recovering from surgery. One will require surgery and the two others have been released and can now return to work.
The officers are not pursuing charges, saying they understand the inmate is mentally ill.
A behavioral health center is being built next to the new Davidson County jail that is currently under construction in downtown Nashville. Sheriff Hall hopes the 64-room treatment center will help curb the number of incidents like this recent attack. It’s set to open in 18 months.