Feb 15, 2020 12:00 AM

Reports: Jail altercation in Kansas sparked by mealtime rule

Posted Feb 15, 2020 12:00 AM

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An altercation involving 20 inmates at a Kansas prison in which five correctional officers were injured lasted just two minutes before the situation was deemed “controlled,” investigative reports show.

Details of the Feb. 4 melee at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility emerged in a trove of inmate disciplinary reports, use-of-force reports, investigative narratives, emails and other information obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request. Those accounts show the large disturbance began at 5:58 p.m., and that there were no inmates hurt or damage to the facility.

The records indicate the trouble began after guards ordered inmates to leave the chow hall after the 20 minutes allotted for dinner was up so the next group of prisoners could be brought in to eat. But some of the men were not finished eating.

One inmate told a guard to “let the man finish his meal.” By this time, more inmates were refusing to leave and began moving closer to the correctional officers. One inmate left his assigned section and moved to another section of the dining room, saying “we are (expletive) human beings” and raising his arms.

“Two inmates were getting irate so I told them to sit down and eat,” the meal line supervisor later wrote in a report. The supervisor said he quietly told the correctional officers who were present to “back off.” When those two inmates finish and leave the chow hall, the supervisor told the officers to cuff them and take them to the restrictive housing unit.

But when an officer instructed an unruly inmate to submit to restraints outside the dining room, the reports said a second inmate stood protectively in front of him, repeatedly saying “you aren’t taking him.” Officers then grabbed both inmates.

One inmate struck an officer several times, according to the reports, and the officer recounted how when he tried to control him, the inmate “wrapped his arm around my throat to choke me.”

Another officer who tried to help two others who were struggling to restrain the inmate said he was kicked in his knee by a prisoner, causing his knee to bend backwards as he landed on the floor. The officers deployed pepper spray.

Amid the commotion, inmates ran out out of the chow hall and began attacking officers, according to one account. An officer described how he was hit in the face by at least three inmates, leaving him with a bloody face and a broken right hand.