Video released of jail fight that injured 20 inmates, 3 officers

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Three corrections officers and about 20 inmates were injured after a fight broke out at Cook County Jail on Tuesday. (WLS)

Three corrections officers and about 20 inmates were injured after a fight broke out at Cook County Jail on Tuesday.

Officials said there was a fight between a handful of inmates in Division 9-the maximum security part of the jail with a section that houses especially violent inmates.

Eight inmates were hospitalized, all with non-life threatening injuries including puncture wounds. Three deputies were also taken to the hospital. Two were hit with food trays, another suffered a meniscus tear.

VIDEO: DIVISION 9 INCIDENT


Cook County Sheriff's Office Chief Policy Officer Cara Smith says five of the eight inmates were treated and released. Smith says one of the officers was treated and released and a second officer was treated for a head injury. Officials said other inmates with minor injuries were treated on site at the jail.

Tempers begin to flare Tuesday night in Division 9. The surveillance video from Tier 1 showed a group of detainees exchanging words before an altercation turns physical. As one man took off his shirt, another threw the first blow. Others joined in with punches.

The tension settles for a moment until correctional deputies entered. One detainee got one more hit in.

In addition to this fight, deputies responded to brawls in two other tiers around the same time.

"The tiers are separated but with each of the tiers holding 48, we were looking at approximately 140 detainees out at once," Dr.Nneka Jones-Tapia, Cook County Department of Corrections, said.

Division 9 houses detainees who have a history of violence both on the street and behind bars, a dangerous situation for deputies trying to restore order.

"We are investigating the situation now to better determine the root cause of it and to determine how we can minimize it from happening again," Jones-Tapia said.

Teamsters Local 700 said in a statement, "As we have expressed over and over again, the jail is being held hostage by a sense of appeasement when dealing with dangerous inmates. We have requested safety equipment for the officers, which other jails across the country already have. We have requested different procedures that would enhance security for all staff at the jail."

"We want to do what is best for our staff. Our ultimate goal is to make sure this facility is safe for the detainees as well as the staff," Jones-Tapia said.

In the past, on big sporting events, the jail has had a problem with a large number of staff members calling in sick. Right now, there is no indication that was the case Tuesday night.

Officials said there is an ongoing investigation into the source of the fight as well as the weapons used.

Smith said criminal charges are possible as authorities' investigation continues.

The full statement from Teamsters Local 700:

As we have expressed over and over again, the jail is being held hostage by a sense of appeasement when dealing with dangerous inmates. We have requested safety equipment for the officers, which other jails across the country already have. We have requested different procedures that would enhance security for all staff at the jail. And we have seen a large increase in sexual assaults and attacks on staff under this administration's management style of appeasement.

On behalf of our membership at the Cook County Department of Corrections, we must ask the taxpayers of Cook County: how many good people have to be attacked before the Sheriff will do something to correct this problem?

-Teamsters Local 700 Business Agent Dennis Andrews


The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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