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28 inmates injured in fights after power outage at Marion County Jail II

Police responded to jail in 700 block of East Washington Street
Posted at 5:53 AM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 20:27:33-05

INDIANAPOLIS — At least 28 Marion County Jail II inmates were injured Monday morning during multiple fights that occurred after power went out in the jail, police said.

Marion County Sheriff Kerry Forestal said the inmates suffered broken bones and minor injuries caused by fights and falls in the dark. No inmates were critically injured, and no police officers or jail employees were hurt.

Eleven inmates were transported by ambulance to Eskenazi Hospital and 17 others were treated at the jail, according to a news release from the Marion County Sheriff's Department. Earlier information from the sheriff's department showed 11 total injuries, but officials said more people came forward afterward.

The power outage was reported at 2:56 a.m. and the jail's generator did not respond. Forestal added the generator is tested on a weekly basis, most recently on Friday. Marion County Jail II is operated by prison company CoreCivic and located at 730 E. Washington St. Forestal said 1,226 inmates were inside the jail at the time of the incident. The jail holds 1,335 prisoners.

Generator power was restored at 4:04 a.m., but it was intermittent until 4:33 a.m.

While power was out, the doors to the dorms were locked and CoreCivic staff has no access to radios or security cameras.

Brandi Davis-Handy, chief public information officer, U.S. Utilities, said in a statement that frozen water on a conduit pulled wires on an Indianapolis Power & Light pole and caused the damage. Power at the jail was restored at 4:33 a.m. from an alternate source, and IPL dispatched an underground crew to make permanent repairs to the primary source.

An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson said officers were dispatched to assist during the incident following the power outage. About 30 police vehicles were seen at the scene on the East Washington Street side of the jail.

WRTV's Rafael Sanchez spoke with an inmate's father who said his son told him "riots" took place in the jail following the power outage with inmates and guards attacked.

"I don't know if there was disorder, but there were incidents of inmate on inmate violence," said Sheriff Kerry J. Forestal.

A spokesperson for CoreCivic released the following statement, "We are extremely grateful for the assistance that the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the MCSO provided during this incident. CoreCivic facility staff are cooperating fully with the investigation being conducted by the MCSO.

CoreCivic is committed to providing high-quality, compassionate treatment for everyone entrusted to our care. We take very seriously our responsibility to provide a safe and appropriate environment for those in our care, and CoreCivic facility staff and our government partners at the MCSO work closely together to address these types of issues as quickly as possible. Our facility maintenance personnel conduct regular checks and inspections of all of the critical infrastructure systems at each of our facilities, including the Marion County Jail II. The back-up generator was last inspected and found to be in proper working order on Friday, February 19. We have a contractor coming out to the facility this afternoon to help us identify why the back-up generator did not operate as designed."

Traffic near the jail on East Washington Street was blocked Monday morning and drivers were instructed to detour.

Watch footage from the scene: