Weeks after officers with shields and body armor confiscated nearly 140 cellphones from Hays State Prison, a video began circulating online of an inmate capturing a prison brawl on an Android cellphone.
The video uploaded to YouTube on Feb. 24 reveals a fight that begins with a prisoner punching and hitting another prisoner and continues with angry shouts into a dark hallway.
More inmates began to attack each other and shove each other into a third room when the video suddenly goes dark.
Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gwendolyn Hogan confirmed officials are investigating what happened.
A tactical squad, made up of 12 officers in riot gear, was searching a section of the prison called Hays Annex for the smart phone, said guards inside the maximum-security prison in Trion, Ga. The annex building, which houses 400 inmates, is where the less violent offenders are reportedly housed.
More than a week ago, corrections officers told the Times Free Press they were worried that the Hays Annex building was vulnerable. As officials tried to beef up security in the main section of the prison, fewer guards were left to guard the annex building, said an officer who asked not to be named because he feared for his job.
The video, which lasts more than a minute, doesn't show any officers responding to the fight.
Hays State has been on lockdown since three inmates were killed in a six-week rash of violence that began in December. Warden Clay Tatum was removed and replaced by his supervisor, Rick Jacobs, after a fourth inmate was killed in Jackson, Ga.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...