A North Carolina inmate has been charged with felony assault in the June attack that seriously injured a high-ranking prison manager.
A Wake County grand jury indicted inmate Jaquan Lane on two charges: assault with a deadly weapon, inflicting serious injury and assault on a state detention employee, inflicting serious bodily injury. Lane, 23, is serving time for robbery.
The June 19 attack sent Brent Soucier, a unit manager at Central Prison, to the hospital for more than three weeks. Soucier continues to recover from his injuries and is not yet back on the job, prison officials said.
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Soucier suffered traumatic brain injury, acute respiratory failure, extensive hemorrhages and facial fractures, among other injuries, the indictment states.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman told the Observer that the SBI and the State Capitol Police are continuing to investigate, and that investigators are trying to determine what role, if any, inmate Andrew Ellis played in the attack.
Prison officials initially said Ellis took part in the assault, but Ellis has not yet been charged. The investigation has determined that Lane used his fists in the attack, Freeman said. But investigators have not determined that other weapons were used.
In a news release issued Friday, state prison officials said “Lane assaulted Soucier using hands and fists in a vicious and malicious surprise attack.”
Lane is currently scheduled to be released in October 2020, but a conviction on the new charges could keep him in prison longer.
The midday attack occurred in a suite of offices used by prison staff members. It’s not clear how inmates got into the suite, but the investigation has not uncovered evidence that prison staff members aided in the assault, Freeman said.
“Our investigation did not determine that it was an area from which inmates were excluded,” Freeman said. “... Our investigation showed that it was customary for inmates to meet with staff in that area. Obviously there were security protocols around that.”
Freeman declined to provide additional details about the assault.
Five prison employees died in attacks at Eastern North Carolina prisons last year.
In April 2017, Sgt. Meggan Callahan was killed inside Bertie Correctional Institution – allegedly by an inmate who beat her to death with a fire extinguisher.
And on Oct. 12, four more employees at Pasquotank Correctional Institution were fatally wounded when a group of inmates, allegedly wielding scissors and hammers, tried to escape the prison’s sewing plant.
Following the killings, state prison leaders took steps to make the prisons safer. But assaults on staff have continued at a steady pace. In the first seven months of this year, the state reported 245 assaults on prison workers — more than one assault per day, on average. Thirty two of those attacks involved weapons, according to the state.
Last week, state prison leaders announced they will significantly stiffen penalties for inmates who assault staff members. Inmates who attack prison employees will be placed in solitary confinement and lose visitation privileges for at least a year, the new policy states.