MIAMI (CBS4) – The Miami-Dade Corrections Department and the State Attorney’s Office have launched an investigation into what caused the cell doors to open all at once in the maximum security section of the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center which led to an attempted attack on an inmate.
The lawyer for Kenneth Williams, the inmate who was targeted, called the security breach suspicious.
Security video from inside the facility from June 14th, the night of the breach, was obtained exclusively by CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
On the video, after all of the doors on the maximum security wing open, a few inmates are seen walking into the common area. One inmate then makes his way down a hallway and appears to hand a homemade weapon to a man in another cell. Then those inmates and another apparently armed man confront a shirtless Williams, a reputed Liberty City gang leader awaiting trial on a witness tampering charge in a murder case.
Williams gets away by jumping over the second floor railing.
“That was the only way he could save his life. It seems from the time this occurred, there were no corrections (guards), nobody around to assist or protect him,” said William’s lawyer J.C. Dugue.
Dugue said not only was he disturbed by the security breach, but it also bothered him that the inmates emerged with weapons immediately after the doors mysteriously opened.
“When you look at the video you’re going ‘My God, something suspicious occurred’,” said Dugue. “It seems like the inmates were able to get prepared real quickly to do what they wanted to do.”
According to the Miami Herald, the county’s corrections department blames operator error for the cells opening up under the jail’s new security system. On Tuesday they issued the following statement concerning the breach.
“The incident which occurred in June 2013 at the Turner Guilford Knight (“TGK”) facility is part of an ongoing criminal and MDCR internal investigation and pursuant to Florida State Statutes and departmental policy may not be commented on until the investigation(s) cease to be active. No information related to the incident has been officially and/or authorized to be released by MDCR and may not accurately relay the totality of events.”
They note that this was the second time in less than a month the group release function was inappropriately activated in this wing.
“I hope further investigation will get a full detail of what occurred,” said Dugue.
Dugue said his client broke a vertebra from this fall and injured his leg. Williams was charged with having a homemade weapon of his own which he reportedly handed off to a fellow inmate while writhing in pain after the fall.
“Clearly whatever he did was out of pure necessity,” said Dugue.
Corrections officers eventually got everyone back in their cells and reportedly found homemade weapons on some of the other inmates. Dugue said his client is now planning to sue the jail.
“You should be safe. You should be able to do your time, come out and try to be a better person,” said Dugue.
Williams is set to go on trial for the witness tampering charge next week and will have a separate trial for allegedly having a weapon while inside the jail. At least 2 of the other inmates involved will also likely face contraband charges.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.