Mo. inmate charged with third-degree assault of CO

At the time of the assault the CO was responsible for supervising 65 max-security inmates in a housing pod

By Taylor Tiamoyo Harris
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

CLAYTON, Mo. — Prosecutors have charged a St. Louis County Jail inmate in the assault last month of a guard.

Bobby Booker, 31, was charged on Saturday with third-degree assault on a special victim, a Class D felony. If convicted, he faces seven years in prison, a fine up to $10,000, or both.

Booker has been incarcerated at Buzz Westfall Justice Center since May for pending charges of robbery, armed criminal action and weapons offenses. He was also previously convicted for assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

The last two inmates who assaulted a guard at the county jail face first-degree assault charges.

Video of the Nov. 23 incident obtained by the Post-Dispatch appears to show Booker hitting the jail official in the face at least three times. Seconds later, other inmates intervened, pulling Booker off the jail official.

An officer in the jail told the Post-Dispatch that the attacked officer was bleeding from the incident, and a spokesperson for St. Louis County Executive Sam Page stated the officer initially opted not to go to a hospital. However, according to Booker's recent charging documents, the guard has continuous pain on the left side of her face, shoulder and lower back. She's also has difficulty sleeping.

The incident drew criticism from the jail's advisory board, whose members at the most recent meeting on Friday asked Justice Services Director Scott Anders for an explanation of the incident. Anders told the board the incident was still under investigation but that jail leaders have taken steps to prevent a similar attack from happening again.

When the guard was attacked, she was alone supervising about 65 maximum security inmates in a housing pod. This was a direct violation of the jail's policy, which requires two officers per housing unit. Jail officials enacted the policy last year in response to previous inmate attacks on the guards.

Since the incident almost a month ago, the jail's staff have resumed strictly following the policy. But an officer in the jail, who did not want to be named out of fear of retaliation, told the Post-Dispatch that the policy had not been followed since this spring due to staff shortages. County officials previously denied staff shortages affecting this particular policy.

When the County Council's budget committee recently proposed cutting 16 new jail positions in the 2023 budget, Anders was vocal about his disapproval. Pay for the new hires totals about $942,000, but savings from reduced overtime costs would cut the amount to about $635,000. Anders warned that cutting the positions for the short-staffed jail would affect morale and higher turnover. The County Council voted to keep the jobs on Wednesday.

Zahmeen Manuel and Carnell Robinson, the last two county jail inmates charged for assaulting guards in 2021, are still battling those charges. Manuel's next court date is in January. Robinson recently opted to represent himself in court, and his next court date is listed for October 2023.

Booker's next court date for the assault charge has not yet been set. An attorney for Booker did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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