WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — According to Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter, some inmates broke a window at the Sedgwick County Jail on Sunday and tried to bring in weapons. He says the investigation revealed a number of other crimes — so many that he had 169 deputies search the jail Wednesday night.
Jail security breach and riot plan
On Sunday, the sheriff said four inmates removed a pipe from a sink in the dayroom, took it into a cell, and started pounding on a window until they created a fist-sized hole in the glass.
The inmates lowered a sheet, and someone on the outside put two cellphones and marijuana into it. The inmates raised the sheet and collected the items.
Easter says that investigators learned there were supposed to be three more drops that day with the ultimate goal of getting a handgun into the jail, but an inmate informed a sergeant before that could happen. The sheriff’s office then secured the jail while it investigated.
Easter said they have learned of almost 20 shanks produced in the last two to three weeks inside the jail.
“We are also told that this is all in conjunction with a KDOC (Kansas Department of Corrections) incident that happened last week at Lansing Correctional Facility,” Easter said.
On Friday, an altercation at Lansing Correctional Facility left three staff members injured and an inmate hospitalized. Easter said the semi-riot involved one particular gang.
“Two leaders of that particular gang used to be housed here for quite some time,” Easter said.
He said the inmates involved in the Sunday incident at the Sedgwick County Jail are associated with that gang.
“It was going to be a similar type issue where they were going to fight other inmates, riot and attack us,” Easter said.
He says the deputy assigned to that pod saw the inmates break the window and get the contraband but did not stop it or tell anyone. The sheriff says the deputy did not give the whole story when investigators confronted him.
Easter said the deputy, Dustin Troy Burnett, 22, had been with the sheriff’s office for six months. He was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic contraband into a correctional facility, attempted trafficking of contraband in a correctional facility, and official misconduct.
Burnett no longer works for the jail. As of Thursday afternoon, he is still a jail inmate.
169 deputies search the entire jail
The sheriff’s office put together a plan to search the entire jail. He said it took 169 sheriff’s deputies, both the commission and detention sides, to search the 1,226-bed facility.
It started at 6 p.m. on Wednesday and lasted about six hours.
Easter said the deputies found a handcuff key wrapped in tape, K-2, two shanks and additional metal items that could be made into shanks, fentanyl pills, and a butane lighter.
The sheriff said that they have recently seized at least four other shanks made of metal, not plastic.
“These are actually metal strike plates that are being forced off of our doors and then shaped into shanks, some of which could produce extremely serious puncture wounds,” he said.
Fentanyl pills, inmate collapses
While investigating the contraband, the sheriff’s office received information that fake Percocet pills containing fentanyl had been introduced into a particular pod.
He said the 169 deputies were searching the south side of the building where the beach happened, so other deputies began monitoring the cameras in the area on the north side where the fake Percocet was believed to be.
The deputies saw an inmate face up in the gymnasium area on the ground. Another inmate was starting to perform CPR on the inmate.
“We immediately responded to that incident,” Easter said. “Medical arrived within one minute. The inmate was given four doses of Narcan. He responded after the last dose.”
While the inmate was being treated in the housing unit, the sheriff says deputies found six pills believed to be fentanyl on him.
The inmate was taken to the hospital for treatment. The sheriff says the inmate was then returned to the jail. Easter says the inmate is a 26-year-old being held for aggravated assault, criminal possession of a firearm, flee and elude, and drug charges.
Easter says deputies thoroughly searched the pod and got the rest of the fentanyl pills.
The investigation is continuing into all of these incidents. The sheriff says the four inmates are being disciplined and are in lockdown. They will not be housed together again.
Easter said they are still investigating who the person was outside the jail, putting the contraband in the sheet.
The inmate who performed CPR on the inmate suffering the drug overdose will be recognized in some way.
The sheriff says they are also working on getting more fencing around the jail, especially around the window areas, to keep outsiders at a distance.