CUSHING – A melee involving numerous correctional officers and prisoners at a private prison this month began after one correctional officer attempted to kick a prisoner who was laying on the ground, an incident report on the matter states.
The Cimarron Correctional Facility holds about 1,600 prisoners of medium and maximum security level and is owned by CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America.
A media release from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections immediately after the May 16 incident, which caused five correctional officers at the Cimarron Correctional Facility to be transported to the hospital with minor injuries, stated only that several inmates assaulted a correctional officer who had deployed pepper spray on an inmate who refused to comply with orders.
However, the initial assault on a correctional officer had been quelled but re-flared after the officer “kicked at” an inmate while other staff were securing those involved, according to an incident report on the fight.
The report states that the melee involved 13 correctional officers and 12 prisoners, all of whom were American Indian and some of whom were members of the Indian Brotherhood gang.
Shortly after 9 p.m., a correctional officer was conducting nightly lock-down procedures on the top level of Cimarron’s Alpha North unit when he became involved in a verbal altercation with a member of the Indian Brotherhood gang, the report states. The officer deployed pepper spray into the face of the prisoner, who then lunged at the officer and began assaulting him.
The report states three other inmates began assaulting the correctional officer, and when another correctional officer saw the assault he was held back from responding by a prisoner before being hit in the back of the head by another prisoner.
When more correctional officers responded, the inmates stopped the assault and began complying with orders to get on the ground, the report states.
However, while staff was securing the inmates involved in the assault, the correctional officer who was the subject of the attack “kicked at” the prisoner who he had earlier sprayed in the face, prompting the prisoners involved in the initial brawl, as well as other inmates, to begin assaulting the responding staff, the report states.
Two correctional officers then deployed pepper spray “utilizing an area saturation,” after which the prisoners stopped assaulting staff and complied with orders from officers, the report states.
About 18.2 ounces of pepper spray was used during the incident, the report states.
Five staff members were injured and taken to a nearby hospital where they were treated and released for their injuries and no inmates were injured, according to the Oklahoma Department of Correction.
The incident is under investigation by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ inspector general, and CoreCivic referred questions about whether the correctional officer who kicked at the inmate was subject to disciplinary action to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
The Cimarron Correctional Facility has had several other violent incidents occur over the past few years, including one of the deadliest prison fights in Oklahoma Department of Corrections history that left four prisoners dead in September 2015.