Dozens of inmates at a county jail in western Arkansas racked up thousands of dollars in damages during a riot Friday, leading to at least five criminal charges and a weekend lockdown of the facility, the Crawford County sheriff said Wednesday.
Five people were charged with inciting the riot, which happened around 7:30 p.m. Friday at the 307-bed facility in Van Buren, the sheriff’s office said. A jailer tried removing an inmate, identified as Joshua Estes, from a common area when he became unruly and the 39 inmates began rioting, officials said.
The sheriff’s office released video of the frenzy captured from deputies’ and other law enforcement officers’ body cameras. The footage shows inmates breaking ceiling lights, tearing off ceiling panels and shouting before multiple officers storm in and handcuff them.
A guard said in the video that she tried removing an inmate who “disrespected” her from a 40-person area when others became combative and circled her and another guard. “I didn’t mean for all of this to happen,” she said to other guards who stood behind a thick window as inmates threw things at it.
In the videos, officers don’t start filming until after the inmates begin rioting.
Sheriff Ron Brown said the inmates broke a sprinkler system and caused water to gush out as water accumulated in a library and jail cells because of an apparent drainage clog.
Officials estimate the cost of the damage to be upwards of $20,000, and the facility was put on lockdown until Monday.
Another video shows several law enforcement officers from other agencies storm into the common area and yell for inmates to get on the ground as they handcuff them in the pooling water.
Other footage shows officers march handcuffed inmates through water and into another common area where inmates sit against walls.
Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the riot because the jail only had a handful of guards on duty at the time, Brown said.
Estes, a state Department of Correction inmate awaiting trial for theft and drug charges in Crawford County, was among those charged with inciting a riot. He’s seen on video talking to a jail official who described him as the riot's “main instigator.” The officer explained he’d be placed away from other inmates while at the jail.
The riot ended at about 1:30 a.m. and no one was seriously injured during the disturbance, Brown said.
Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.