Five Arkansas Department of Corrections inmates have been charged with felonies stemming from a riot Friday night in the Crawford County Detention Center.
Joshua Estes, Dylan Flurry, Steven Huffstetler, Taylor Johnson and James Thompson were charged with felony inciting a riot for their role in the incident that occurred around 7 p.m. Friday in their jail pod. The riot caused an estimated $15,000-$20,000 in damage to the Detention Center, including flooding in six jail pods, said Crawford County Sheriff Ron Brown.
"Based on deputies’ statements, the investigation and what we had on camera, what we can solidly prove, I feel like those five we can solidly prove were involved," Brown said, adding that the five inmates could face extended sentences based on the verdicts on their charges.
Jail deputies prior to the riot tried to remove Estes from his pod, which also held the other four and is set aside entirely for Department of Corrections inmates, for disciplinary reasons, Brown said. They decided to remove Estes after he repeatedly called Sheriff's Sgt. Desaray Ganz derogatory terms and his history in the jail, according to Ganz's report of the incident.
Estes was taken out into the hallway but then returned to the pod to gather his belongings before going to lockdown. He became belligerent and began yelling at the jail deputies after returning to the pod to collect his things, a video of the incident shows.
"You can see them come down from their top bunks. You see them go to the sinks and wet those," Brown said of the video. Huffstetler told deputies, "If you're going to take him, you're going to take all of us" as Estes gathered his belongings, the report states.
Once in the hallway, Estes yelled at an inmate in a pod to "Pop this s--- off in this mother------." Inmates inside the pod then threw wet toilet paper on the surveillance cameras and broke a light with a tray, video footage shows. Brown said ceiling tiles were also damaged in the incident.
The six jail pods were flooded because inmates in the pod where the riot took place broke a sprinkler head, Brown said. He estimated up to 2 inches of water accumulated in some parts of the jail as a result.
"That hampered our ability to gain entry, but once the water was turned off, we immediately went in there and they surrendered," Brown said, adding that about 20 officers from outside state and Crawford County law enforcement agencies responded to the riot.
Brown specifically said Huffstetler was primarily responsible for the destruction and that Thompson encouraged the riot in addition to Estes' initiation. Brown said he does not expect charges to come down on any of the other 35 inmates in the pod.
All 39 inmates in the cell at the time of the riot were placed on lockdown into Saturday.
"There’s nothing to prevent this," Brown said. "We have fights weekly. It’s like a neighborhood sometimes. You have neighbors who don’t like neighbors, and this was the first one in this facility to that magnitude."
Though he said the incident was unfortunate and dangerous for jail personnel, Brown spoke highly of how his jail deputies handled the situation.
"I felt like they were in control, and I’m proud of them," he said.