Jail staff were confronted with the threat of a riot after inmates became upset the air conditioner was not working Saturday, June 2.
In the report filed that evening, a jailer reports the incident began when an inmate threatened at 5:20 p.m. to “start a riot if there was not something done about the air conditioner not working.” The jailer, with two others, went to the pod, per the report, and explained to that inmate and others that the air conditioner was broken and parts were on order to fix it the following Monday.
The inmate who first called out the willingness to start a riot, Richard Reynolds, 28, of Clinton, told the jailer, per the report, “…that was not good enough and if there was not something done about the issue they would riot,” per the report.
The officer offered for Reynolds and others to go outside to cool off, “but they refused,” the report stated. A industrial fan was positioned by officers to blow air into the pod via its “bean holes,” the main door pass-through, the officer reported. A second inmate, Keith Ring, 24, or Morrilton, threatened the officers as they were doing this, telling them he would, per the report, harm any officer who tried to remove him from the pod.
With this other inmates gathered around Ring and Reynolds, telling the officers they would prevent any effort to remove either man from the pod.
As the officers attended to other duties, Reynolds began kicking the pod door, screaming that he was going to flood the pod, and calling out through the bean hole to the adjoining pod to “riot with them.”
Jail officers arrived to remove Reynolds, as the ringleader, from the pod. A fight broke out as Reynolds refused to leave and the reporting officer had to wrestle with Reynolds to subdue him. OC spray, per the report, was used in an effort to quell Reynolds' resistance, which led to Ring and others rushing one of the officers, who was forced to leave the pod. The first officer continued to work on removing Reynolds, who was holding onto a bed, when he was “confronted by other detainees” and forced to leave the pod pending additional officers arrival.
Five officers gathered and re-entered the pod, faced by inmates who had used their t-shirts to form face masks, per the report. The officers worked to remove Reynolds, who was still holding onto a bed, and were finally successful. As they drug him toward the door, however, the other inmates grabbed Reynolds by the legs and pulled him back into the pod.
To avoid injury the officers let go of Reynolds, the report stated.
At this, the report continued, Reynolds agreed to come out of the pod if accompanied by a second inmate, Carol Grimes, 43, of Clinton (cited earlier as one of the inmates protecting Reynolds and Ring). They were both escorted from the pod by officers.
It was by now 7:10 p.m. and Reynolds was checked (“detoxed,” per the report) and taken to the hospital complaining of wrist pain. There after X-rays doctor's told officers that Reynolds had not broken bones, but had strained a ligament in his wrist. He was given a brace.
Reynolds was returned to jail, and placed in a holding cell due to there being metal in the brace.
Sheriff Randy Gurley, apprised of the situation, had television and E-cigarettes removed from the pod, per the report, as well as Grimes and a second participant, Jeffery Dowell, 40, of Clinton, lose their trustee privileges.
As officers searched the pod, after removing inmates to the recreating yard, to remove the television and E-cigarettes, methamphetamine was found, the report stated, not including the amount. It was found in a bunk inside the pod.
One of the participants, Mathew Armstrong, was being held pending transfer to Searcy County. Searcy County was called, the report concluded, and Armstrong was taken to the county that night.
Jail staff said other inmates, including federal detainees, did not participate in the riot threat or fight.
[The print edition had an error on the name of the inmate sent to Searcy County. This has been corrected in the online edition and a correction will be run in the print edition. The Van Buren County Democrat regrets any error.]
[Reynolds was interviewed by this paper in early May as part of its exploration into drug abuse in Van Buren County.]