LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – New video and photos from inside an Arkansas prison showing Correction Officers storming a cell unit after two of their own are attacked.
Officials at the Arkansas Department of Correction say the assault happened last week at the Varner Unit.
Two guards were hurt, along with inmates, resulting in multiple injuries and people being sent to the hospital.
“The Lieutenant was stabbed and the Major was physically beaten,” says the prisoner.
The prisoner, who asks we do not revel his identity for safety reasons, says a tactical team stormed the barracks the prisoners were barricaded in after the inmates complied with Correction Officers to get on the ground.
“They came in with overwhelming force. They shot the windows out in the front and back of the barracks with riot guns. They came in and shot lots of rubber bullets,” he says. “They came in here, Mitch and they beat us, man and some of the guards are using racial expletives calling us the N-word.”
(WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE)
In one of the video clips, it shows what appears to be an officer holding a spray can, walking up to that restrained inmate then the cell phone drops.
“I think it has to start at the top, Mitch. The guards for the most part are very unprofessional. I mean, like I said, they talk to you bad. I think they’re not trained properly,” says the prisoner.
He says last week’s attack was sparked by an ongoing feud between an inmate and guard.
The prisoner says there needs to be a shake up fast before more people are hurt.
“It don’t change you feel like you have no reason to live, man,” says the prisoner.
Arkansas Department of Correction Spokesperson Solomon Graves released the following statement regarding the use of force and training Correction Officers receive:
“As the Department stated last Thursday, non-deadly force was utilized in response to several inmates barricading themselves in a barracks at the Varner Unit and the cell phone video provided to us this afternoon is consistent with that statement. This force included the discharge of less lethal munitions, specifically rubber bullets and stinger grenades. Prior to the use of force, responding staff gave all inmates in the barracks loud and firm verbal warnings directing the inmates to cease their actions and comply with orders to remove the barricades. Those orders were not adhered to. Following this use of force, several inmates were sent out to area hospitals for evaluation/treatment and later returned to the Unit the same night. There was no inmate with a nose “shot off” as asserted in your earlier email.
The Department has no evidence indicating that staff used racial slurs during Department’s use of force.
All employees receive training which meets the accreditation standards of the American Correctional Association and any additional needs of the Department of Correction. As a result, Correctional Officers receive a minimum of forty (40) hours of training annually. Only employees who received training approved by the Department of Correction’s Training Academy, were permitted to discharge less lethal munitions. This training includes scenario-based training.”
Graves also says the allegations a Correction Officer assaulted an inmate are not substantiated by the video. Graves says the department has no evidence indicating that an officer assaulted an inmate in restraints.
Graves adds the possession of a cell phone by an inmate in a correctional facility is a crime in the state of Arkansas. The state official says these devices, in the hands of inmates, can be used to introduce other forms of contraband into the facility or engage in other forms of criminal activity.
Last week, Senator Joyce Elliot said she planned on asking the Director of the Department of Correction back to a committee meeting to explore issues inside the prison. Governor Asa Hutchinson said he asked the Director to find new ‘safeguards’ to put in place.