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story.lead_photo.caption A screenshot of a Crawford County deputy's body camera shows dozens of inmates riot at the facility on March 8, 2019. Video courtesy of the Crawford County sheriff's office.

Five people have been charged with inciting a riot after prisoners caused thousands of dollars in damage Friday night at the Crawford County jail, the sheriff said Wednesday.

The riot began around 7:30 p.m. Friday at the 307-bed lockup in Van Buren, the sheriff's office said. The incident started when a jailer tried to remove prisoner Joshua Estes from a common area because Estes had become unruly, officials said.

Estes, along with prisoners Dylan Flurry, James Thompson, Steven Huffstetler and Taylor Johnson, are facing charges related to the disturbance.

Thirty-nine prisoners took part in the rioting, officials said. The tumult ended about 1:30 a.m., and the jail was put on lockdown until Monday, according to Sheriff Ron Brown.

No officers or inmates were injured, Brown said.

The sheriff's office released video of the incident captured by deputies' and other law enforcement officers' body cameras. The footage shows prisoners 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 to remove from the common area a prisoner who "disrespected" her, and that other prisoners then became combative, and encircled 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 prisoners are rioting.

Brown said prisoners broke a sprinkler system, which caused water to gush out and accumulate about 1½ inches deep in a library and jail cells because of clogged drainage. On Wednesday, officials estimated the damage at upward of $20,000.

Another video shows several law enforcement officers from other agencies storming into the common area and yelling for prisoners to get on the ground. The officers then handcuff the prisoners in the pooling water.

Other footage shows officers marching handcuffed prisoners through water and into another common area where prisoners sit against walls.

Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to assist in the melee, including Van Buren police, Arkansas State Police and Highway Patrol, and officers from Mountainburg, Mulberry, Alma, Kibler and Dyer, Brown said. The jail had only a handful of guards on duty at the time of the upheaval, the sheriff said.

Estes, a state Department of Correction inmate awaiting trial on theft and drug charges in Crawford County is seen in video talking to a jail official who described him as the riot's "main instigator."

The officer explained that Estes will be placed away from other prisoners while at the jail.

The $20 million lockup, located on U.S. 64 between Van Buren and Alma, opened in November 2016.

Information for this article was contributed by Dave Hughes of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

State Desk on 03/14/2019

Print Headline: 5 prisoners charged in riot at jail, sheriff says

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