Inmate shot by tower officer during gang-related fight on prison yard

"In order to prevent a serious physical injury to a prisoner on the ground, a tower officer shot one of the prisoners in the right tricep," MDOC said


By James David Dickson
The Detroit News

IONIA, Mich. — An inmate was shot Sunday as corrections officers at Michigan Reformatory Correctional Facility in Ionia broke up a fight believed to be gang-related.

There were two fights Sunday on the prison yard during time for "level four" prisoners. Inmates are assigned to levels, one through five, based on behavior and the risk they are believed to pose. Level five is the highest.

An inmate at the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia was shot by a tower officer during a fight.
An inmate at the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia was shot by a tower officer during a fight. (Photo/J. Scott Park of MLive Media Group via TNS)

In a statement to employees, which it shared with The News, the Michigan Department of Corrections said "there were multiple prisoners involved in these fights," one on the large yard, the other on a smaller yard.

Officers fired "a number of warning shots," but despite the use of Tasers and "chemical agents" to disrupt the disruption, "the prisoners continued fighting," the statement said.

"In order to prevent a serious physical injury to a prisoner on the ground, a tower officer shot one of the prisoners in the right tricep."

Medics took the man to a hospital.

Participants in the fight used weapons, but there were no other "serious" injuries to staff or inmates, the department said.

Due to the ruckus, the coronavirus testing set for Monday was postponed.

Fifty-five inmates in Michigan's prison system have died after contracting the virus, but Michigan Reformatory has had only 10 of the 2,243 inmate cases, as of Sunday night, and no deaths.

Chris Gautz, spokesman for the department, said no decision has been made on the inmate's placement after he recovers.

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©2020 The Detroit News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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