Three Mecklenburg County jail officers were assaulted by an inmate who they tried moving to a disciplinary unit, and away from the detention facility’s general population, on Tuesday, the sheriff’s office said Thursday.
Around 8:45 p.m., two Direct Action Response Team officers and a detention sergeant at the jail tried moving 39-year-old inmate Eric Henderson to the detention unit, the sheriff’s office said. Henderson refused to comply with commands of the officers and stabbed one of them with “homemade weapons,” the sheriff’s office said.
The officer who was stabbed received treatment by the detention facility medical’s staff, before being taken to a hospital where he was later released, the sheriff’s office said. The other two officers received non-life-threatening and minor injuries during the incident.
Once alerted about the incident, Sheriff Garry McFadden said he went to the hospital and stayed with the two injured officers until they were released. “Both are in good spirits and eager to return to work,” he said.
Henderson is being charged with possession of weapon by a prisoner, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill or inflicting serious injury and assault inflicting serious injury on a law enforcement, probation, parole officer or on a person employed at a state or local detention facility, according to the sheriff’s office.
Henderson has faced a number of prior felony cases, including being convicted for conspiracy to commit armed robbery in 2000, according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety. He was most recently charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, resisting a public officer and felony assault charges on June 8, 2020.
Pandemic’s affect on jail operations
McFadden called a mandatory meeting with detention staff on Wednesday morning to discuss the incident. At the meeting, the staff determined that a breakdown in communication and lack of adhering to protocol may have contributed to the assault, the sheriff’s office said.
Staff shortages, mandatory overtime, missed court dates for inmates and minimal movement inside the housing units during the COVID-19 pandemic have put a strain on the jail and its operations, McFadden said.
McFadden directed detention captains to create an updated standard operating procedure for moving residents to disciplinary detention units, the sheriff’s office said.
On Friday more than 80 jail staff members conducted a 12-hour safety and security check of the detention facility.
“Unfortunately, we know that no matter how swiftly we act to search our facilities for weapons or contraband, residents can recreate these items in less than 24 hours,” McFadden said.
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