Jail inmate stabs another in head with dental equipment
A Hampton Roads Regional Jail inmate forced his way into a dental examination room earlier this year and stabbed another inmate
Scott Daugherty and Margaret Matray
HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — A Hampton Roads Regional Jail inmate forced his way into a dental examination room earlier this year and stabbed another inmate in the head with dental equipment, according to Portsmouth Sheriff Michael Moore and his staff.
No charges have been filed in the Aug. 20 incident, which jail staff said resulted in the victim being sent to an area hospital as a precaution.
HRRJ Superintendent David Hackworth said in an interview that his staff investigated the incident, which he said occurred near two correctional officers and a dentist. He said they forwarded their findings to the Portsmouth commonwealth’s attorney’s office before a hearing Wednesday morning on the future of the city jail.
“We cross our T’s and dot our I’s,” Hackworth said, explaining why the investigation took more than a month. “We want to make sure we do everything as thorough as possible.”
Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales said her office received a binder from the jail on the day of the Wednesday hearing. She said her staff was now reviewing the materials presented "to determine whether additional investigative steps are required and ultimately to make a prosecutorial determination.”
Moore brought up the dental exam incident Wednesday during the court hearing over the city’s efforts to condemn the Portsmouth City Jail, which he oversees.
City building officials in July moved to condemn it and several nearby Civic Center buildings with little or no notice, posting bright yellow signs on various doors deeming the structure unfit for human habitation. As part of its plans, the city wants to transfer the 280-some inmates currently housed there to the regional jail, which the city pays about $6 million a year for up to 250 inmates to be housed there. Currently, Portsmouth has fewer than 50 inmates there.
Moore, an independently-elected constitutional officer, argues the regional jail is unsafe and that the city should instead refurbish the current city jail or build a new one on land it owns near the courthouse. His argument hinges largely on a Justice Department report released in December that found the facility was likely violating its inmates’ civil rights. In conversations and court testimony, however, he has noted other issues at the regional jail — like the dental exam assault.
Moore said the dentist, who also sees patients at the city jail, was knocked down during the incident. He added that it was his understanding the attacker was not accompanied by any regional jail officers when he forced his way into the exam room and attacked an inmate receiving medical care. Hackworth disputed that fact.
Lt. Col. Marvin Waters, a sheriff’s office spokesman, said Moore learned of the dental exam incident from the dentist and unspecified “senior staff” at the regional jail.
Waters added that the dentist did not want to speak to The Virginian-Pilot.
“She’s still scared to talk,” he said.
©2019 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)