SOUTH BEND – An inmate being held at the St. Joseph County Jail has been injured, and a jail officer is off the job after a scary situation late Thursday night.
The Sheriff’s Department says Brian Newman was a federal inmate on suicide watch at the jail when he fell from the second floor of the jail “slice” where he was assigned.
Each “slice” has individual cells where inmates live while jailed.
Police say around 11:00 p.m., Newman was out of his cell in handcuffs with a jail officer for recreational time. No other inmates were with them.
Newman asked the officer for an inmate request form, which is the way inmates can ask for goods or services in the jail.
Investigators say the officer left the inmate sitting at a table on the first floor of the “slice” to get a copy of the form. Immediately after the officer left the pod, Newman stood up, walked up the stairs and wriggled his way through the protective bars on the second floor.
Newman fell about 8 feet on his head.
While Newman was maneuvering through the bars, other inmates saw what he was doing and told jail officers what was happening by using communications equipment that’s in each cell area.
As soon as the tower guard heard the inmates, he ordered the floor officer to go back in and try to stop Newman. The officer was unable to reach Newman before he fell.
Police say within seconds of Newman’s fall, correctional officers and a nurse were there to provide first aid.
Newman was taken to the hospital for head injuries and lacerations.
Investigators say the County Police Administration was told immediately after the incident and began a probe into the incident. They were not able to interview Newman Friday morning due to his condition and medical treatment, so they don’t yet know they reason for Newman’s actions.
The entire incident was captured on jail video surveillance equipment and is part of the investigation.
The jail officer involved has been placed on administrative leave with pay until the investigation is complete.