Mich. inmates gain control of housing unit, cause extensive damage

Inmates broke equipment, glass and caused minor flooding after taking control of a Chippewa Correctional Facility housing unit


By Paul Egan
Detroit Free Press

LANSING, Mich. — Prisoners took control of a housing unit at Chippewa Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula for about five hours after a fight Sunday night, a Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman said Monday.

Prisoners did extensive damage to the unit, breaking equipment and glass and causing minor flooding, but spokesman Chris Gautz said he was not aware of injuries to officers or prisoners either during the time officers abandoned the unit or during the time officials regained control.

No officers or prisoners were injured during the takeover. (Photo/MLive.com via TNS)
No officers or prisoners were injured during the takeover. (Photo/MLive.com via TNS)

The unit at Chippewa Correctional Facility, near Kincheloe in the eastern U.P. houses 235 prisoners, Gautz said. It's a level two unit, meaning it is intended to house prisoners having the second-lowest security rankings.

The disturbance began shortly before 10:30 p.m. Sunday after an officer used a Taser on a prisoner while breaking up a fight among three prisoners, Gautz said.

That prisoner was taken by ambulance to a local hospital," Gautz said.

"After the ambulance left, prisoners in the unit left their cells and approached the officer station and the officers were able to exit safely."

Prisoners "made a mess of the unit, destroyed equipment, threw papers everywhere, broke glass, flooded areas," Gautz said.

Just before 4 a.m. Monday, prison staff, assisted by an emergency response team drawn from multiple prisons, "swiftly moved into the unit and secured all prisoners in their cells," he said.

The Michigan State Police and officers from the U.S. Border Patrol also assisted, he said.

The entire Chippewa prison can house about 2,000 prisoners.

Gautz said officials used "non-lethal devices" to keep prisoners inside the unit before regaining control and he did not have details on what measures used to regain control of the unit.

 The prisoner taken to the hospital after the Taser was deployed was medically cleared and returned to the custody of the department, he said. Gautz could not say whether the Taser was deployed appropriately, pending review of video.

In September 2016, armed officers used pepper spray at nearby Kinross Correctional Facility after what began as a peaceful demonstration got out of control. Officials removed officers from eight housing units before deploying the emergency response team and binding the wrists of all prisoners with zip ties.

Prisoners at Kinross set at least one fire and caused extensive damage in what the head of the Michigan Corrections Organization called a riot. The department would not use that term, saying there were no significant injuries.

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