A Jackson County corrections officer is in critical condition at a local hospital after being assaulted by a prisoner Wednesday evening.
The life-threatening assault — which lasted approximately eight minutes — occurred at the Jackson County Detention Center around 9:30 p.m. Police officers responded to the hospital Wednesday evening and met with a correctional center supervisor, according to Kansas City police.
Surveillance video and witness statements show the defendant assaulted the corrections officer for several minutes with numerous items, including a plastic cone, records show. The corrections officer was unconscious for much of the assault.
“I’m praying for a Jackson County jail guard fighting for his life after a vicious attack by an inmate,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker tweeted Thursday afternoon. “Charges are forthcoming - And I’ll continue to pray. But that’s not enough. Change is needed...now.”
During a late September news conference about violence in the jail, Baker and Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp said they were fed up with assaults that had been occurring. They also expressed frustration with a jail operation that makes the violence possible in the first place.
By 1:15 p.m. Thursday, charges had been filed against Johnny R. Dunlap, 20, in the Wednesday night assault. Dunlap was charged with Assault 1st Degree and Armed Criminal Action, which carry a punishment of up to life in prison.
The officer’s injuries include fractured facial and nasal bones and a brain bleed, according to the probable cause statement in the case.
According to court records, detectives interviewed Dunlap after the assault.
“During the interview, Dunlap claimed he assaulted the victim due to pent up anger toward his perception of racism towards him for being black,” the probable cause statement read. “Dunlap could not point to specific events or an action where the victim was acting (in) a racist manner except for saying he (the victim) did not want to be black.”
Dunlap then told detectives he assaulted the victim due to mental health issues and claimed to be disagnosed with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. He said he “heard voices telling him to go get him and that he deserves to have his (butt) beat,” the statement read.
At the end of the interview, Dunlap told detectives he wanted to apologize to the victim if he survives.
Regarding this most recent assault, Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. issued a statement Thursday afternoon.
“Our corrections officers are dedicated, hard-working professionals, who have the difficult job of ensuring the safety and welfare of inmates,” White said. “They are an important component of our criminal justice system. I admire the work they do to keep our community safe and they deserve to be treated with respect. As I’ve stated numerous times, the safety and security of our corrections officers will always be of utmost importance.”
White went on to say that he and his administration take assaults seriously and such violence won’t be tolerated.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the corrections officer who was injured in this assault,” White said. “We are fully committed to supporting the corrections officer and his family throughout this difficult process.”
Crystal Williams, a Jackson County legislator, also issued a statement.
“I am heartbroken another of our hardworking corrections officers was critically injured in the line of duty,” Williams said. “I continue to question whether the current Corrections Department team is capable of running a safer facility for both officers and inmates.”
Four Jackson County jail inmates face felony charges for the Aug. 26 assault of a corrections officer, who suffered a concussion, a broken finger and other injuries. One of those four inmates also is charged with a misdemeanor in another assault on a jail guard.