A man was injured in a jail cell fight Aug. 30 at the Montezuma County Detention Center, and had to be hospitalized, said Sheriff Steve Nowlin.
Jerry Smith, 43, suffered an injury to his torso as a result of the brawl, which allegedly involved his cellmates, Nowlin said. He is expected to recover and is being held in medical lock-down with no cellmates.
“There was security video of the incident, and it will be submitted to the district attorney for review of possible charges,” Nowlin said.
A report of the fight in Cell Block A was not available because it is still under investigation.
Smith was admitted to Southwest Memorial Hospital for treatment and X-rays, and was held overnight, Nowlin said.
Family members were upset they could not visit him while he was in the hospital. Nowlin said for security reasons, it is standard procedure to not allow visitors to see an inmate during a hospital stay.
Smith suffered damage to his ribs and lung, according to his sister, Eva Opferkuch, who contacted The Journal about the incident.
“No one in our family was told that this incident happened. We did not know how serious his condition was,” she stated.
Nowlin said prisoners have access to phones and Smith was able to contact his family about the situation.
If assault charges are warranted against potential suspects, the severity of the charges will depend on the extent of the injuries to Smith.
Inmates are housed together in cells at the jail because of limited space, Nowlin said. Jailers use their best judgment in determining the safest cellmate pairings. Usually it goes smoothly, but fights break out about five to 10 times per year, jail officials said.
Jail deputies patrol the cells as much as possible, but limited staff and budget means they can’t be everywhere at once, Nowlin said.
“That is why we have security cameras everywhere,” he said.