Democrats say inmate-inflicted injuries were downplayed

An inmate broke a Tennessee correctional officer’s eye socket and nose while inflicting other injuries in an attack Tuesday at the Morgan County Correctional Complex, according to state Democratic lawmakers quoted by The Tennessean.

The account shows the attack on Sgt. David “Woody” Garrett was more severe than indicated by reports from the Tennessee Department of Correction, according to state lawmakers. The state described Garrett’s injuries as “non-life threatening.”

“If someone is kicking me in the head, particularly a person trained in mixed martial arts, I’m going to consider that a violent and, indeed, life-threatening activity,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart, D-Nashville.

Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, represents the area that includes the Morgan County facility and personally knows the family of one of the correctional officers attacked.

…The department confirmed Tuesday that one officer was taken to the hospital with injuries described as “non-life threatening,” but declined to provide other related details about the attack. A department spokesman also said a second correctional officer was taken to the hospital via ambulance because of an unrelated personal health issue.

The lawmakers say there were several fights that resulted in numerous injuries. Stewart said the inmate who attacked Garrett is a mixed martial arts fighter who attacked jail deputies in a different, unrelated event in the past. In addition to Garrett, the lawmakers say a second officer was treated for “torn muscles in her chest wall.”

Stewart showed photos of Garrett and discussed the attack during a Wednesday afternoon press conference. Windle knows Garrett and received permission from the officer’s family to release the photographs, Stewart said.

The attack in Morgan County comes days after an attack at West Tennessee State Penitentiary sent an officer to the hospital.