Inmates at NC prison had 20 minutes to kill and maim before help arrived, report shows

Roughly 20 minutes elapsed between the time two corrections officers were attacked at the Pasquotank Correctional Institution and when help first arrived, according to internal reports of the incident obtained by WBTV.

Four inmates launched an escape attempt at the prison on Oct. 12, 2017. The incident has left three prison employees dead and nine other employees injured.

Mikel Brady, Wisezah Buckman, Seth Frazier and Jonathan Monk face first-degree murder charges related to the killing of Veronica Darden and Justin Smith, the two corrections officers who died immediately after the attempted escape. Charges have not been announced related to the death of Wendy Shannon, who died Monday from injuries sustained in the incident.

According to the reports obtained by WBTV, prison officials began an investigation into the incident on Oct. 20, 2017.

The narrative obtained in the Offender’s Disciplinary Infraction reports outlines the sequence of events related to the escape attempt as captured on video.

According to the narrative, the incident starts at 2:43 p.m. with two inmates – Frazier and Brady – waiting by the freight elevator of the prison’s industrial sewing plant.

“Inmates Seth Frazier and Mikel Brady are observed waiting in the corridor by the enterprise freight elevator as Enterprise Manager V. Darden enter (sic) the area inmates Frazier and Brady begin there (sic) assault on her,” the report says.

The report says one of the inmates, Brady, left the corridor where Darden was attacked and walked a “claw hammer” to a third inmate, Buckman, then walked to the corner of a store room where a fourth inmate, Monk, who had cornered Corrections Officer Justin Smith.

“Buckman then begins his assault on Officer Smith with the claw hammer. As inmates Monk and Buckman are assaulting Officer Smith, inmate Brady also enters the storage room and assists with the assault on Officer Smith,” the report says.

According to the reports, the inmates then use a radio to report a false incident at another area in the prison at 2:58 p.m. Around the same time, the report says, the inmates set a fire in the sewing plant.

At roughly 3 p.m., prison staff called several codes to indicate there was an incident in the sewing plant, the reports say.

After assaulting Darden and Smith, calling in the false report and setting the fire in the sewing plant, the report says the four inmates moved to the sewing plant’s loading dock at approximately 3:01 p.m.

It was on the loading dock, according to the reports, where the inmates encountered and attacked two more prison employees, including Officer Wendy Shannon.

At 3:02 p.m., as the inmates were assaulting the two employees on the loading dock, other corrections officers arrived to challenge the inmates, the report says.

“Staff responding to the codes which were called exited the loading dock area at approximately 15:02 pursuing the 4 inmates as, the inmates met resistance by staff they moved towards the United 3 Modified Yard fence where at approx.. 15:08 inmates Buckman, Fraizer, and Brady scaled the fence,” the report says.

Monk, the fourth inmate, was captured as he tried to climb the fence. A second inmate, Buckman, was captured trying to scale another fence. The other two inmates, Brady and Frazier ultimately surrendered after climbing three fences to get to a yard with a fence separating the prison yard from the general public.

The new revelations of the slow response time to the attacks on the prison guards come a day after a WBTV report detailing concerns by staff who work inside North Carolina prisons that there are not enough employees to properly monitor inmates and prison operations.

The Charlotte Observer has reported that Smith was the only corrections officer assigned to supervise the more than 30 inmates in the sewing plant at the time of the attack.

A spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Corrections, the state agency that oversees the state’s prisons, refused to provide an explanation as to why it took 20 minutes for help to arrive after the first to prison employees were attacked.

Instead, the spokeswoman requested WBTV not publish the report.

“This information is protected and confidential information that has been illegally accessed on a state computer and illegally provided to you,” DPS spokeswoman Pamela Walker said. “The department asks that you not publicize this confidential information.”

Following her email to WBTV asking the station not report the information contained in the internal prison reports, Walker, the DPS spokeswoman, called WBTV investigative reporter Nick Ochsner regarding the story.

Walker specifically demanded that WBTV remove this story from the station’s website.

“You have reported on information that was illegally obtained. It was confidential information,” Walker told Ochsner. “It is protected by law.”

Attorneys for WBTV have responded to Walker to explain that the station will not take its story down and is protected from such demands by the First Amendment.

WBTV has reached out for a comment from Governor Roy Cooper—who oversees DPS as an executive agency—on whether he feels it is appropriate for a state agency to ask a media outlet to not report and then, later, delete its reporting based on a newsworthy government document. WBTV also asked the Governor’s Office whether it was acceptable that the two prison employees had to wait for 20 minutes before help arrived.

Cooper’s office has yet to respond to an email and voice mail requesting comment.

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