A Miami-Dade Corrections officer is coming out of surgery Monday after what his coworkers say was a vicious attack that was made worse because emergency equipment didn’t work.
Union leaders said what happened to Officer Jonathan Quijano is just one example of the trouble in Miami-Dade County jails.
John Rivera, the head of the union representing corrections officers in Miami-Dade, said Quijano's calls for help initially went unanswered at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center when he was allegedly attacked by inmate Jovens Esperance on March 3.
“All the other prisoners started to fight. He lost total control,” said Rivera, who is the president of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association. “And he had some equipment on him that has been malfunctioning, and that's been one of our complaints.”
Rivera said Quijano's emergency equipment didn't send off an automatic alert when he went down. Nor did other equipment work – like cameras – that would have let supervisors quickly know that one of their own was in trouble.
“There is a triggering mechanism that he is supposed to have on him, which he did. Didn't set it off, the cameras weren't working, nobody could see him,” Rivera said. “And then when he cried for help, the radios weren't working. And so nobody could come to his rescue."
Quijano received serious injuries to his hand – and a police report exclusively obtained by NBC 6 indicates he was also beaten about the face and chest.
The Miami-Dade Police report said Esperance became enraged and began to punch Quijano in the face and chest with a closed fist. The officer struggled with the inmate, suffering a busted lip, multiple abrasions and injured right finger in the process, the report said.
“He suffered a great deal of bruising and some cuts to his face. He also fractured his knuckles,” Rivera said.
Quijano was treated at an area hospital and released the same day, according to Miami-Dade Corrections Director Timothy Ryan.
Corrections officers told NBC 6 the attack here is an example of trouble inside the corrections facilities.
Ryan has a much different view. He said the emergency response for Officer Quijano was quick and efficient.
“We consider the safety and security of our personnel of the utmost importance. However, such adverse events are part of the challenge of being a professional correctional officer,” Ryan said in a statement. “We take each incident very seriously, and will be closely examining these events to ensure that every safety and security measure was in place. Should any issues surface, we will correct them immediately.”
Over the last two years the county has reduced the corrections budget by $40 million. Rivera said the cuts played a role in what happen when the officer at TGK was attacked.
“There is no doubt in our minds that the injuries that he sustained reached the level of injury that they did because he could not get the proper assistance,” he said.
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