Richland County Sheriff Issues Suspensions for Correction Officers
The inmate that was mistakenly released and escaped from the Richland County Jail on Sept. 4th, generated an Internal Investigation of two correctional officers and sergeant. The inmate, Cornelius Phillips, was later arrested in Huntsville, Alabama on Sept. 18th, without incident.
The criminal investigation found that Phillips was the planner and Dasia Crutcher helped facilitate it. Phillips worked with Chekiah Washington to allow Crutcher to post his bond for release. Phillips, identified through watching the operations of the jail, observed there were specific time frames to facilitate an escape, using Washington’s identity. Also, he observed that certain staff were complacent on how they identified inmates to be released. When the officer went to the pod to call for Washington to be released, Phillips posed as Washington. The officer should have positively identified the inmate before he was escorted down to booking to be processed out. The booking officer should have done the same for the release of the inmate.
The Sheriff’s Office issued nationwide warrants for Cornelius Joseph Phillips for escape, a second degree felony, Dasia Crutcher and Checkiah E. Washington Jr. for Escape/Complicity a second degree felony. Washington was arrested on 09/10/18 and is being held in the Richland County Jail on a $50,000 Cash Bond.
During the internal affairs investigation as well as the criminal investigation we identified that the weakness or breach in security had everything to do with officers not following policy or established procedures. Since this incident, we have put additional security measures in place. The Office takes this incident very seriously and after a review of the incident and after the officers had a pre-disciplinary conference on 09/24/18, the Sheriff issued the following discipline:
Corrections Officer Stephen McDonnell was found to have exhibited gross neglect of duty resulting in the escape of an inmate. McDonnell went to the housing unit and failed to positively identify the inmate who was to be released. McDonnell was issued a (10) ten day suspension without pay that starts today.
Sergeant Kenneth Moore was found to have exhibited gross neglect of duty resulting in the escape of an inmate. Moore was the supervisor who failed to supervise McDonnell to assure procedures were being followed. Moore was issued a (5) five day suspension without pay that starts today.
Corrections Officer Christopher Plantz was found to have exhibited gross neglect of duty resulting in the escape of an inmate. Plantz was the booking officer who processed Phillips’ release without positively identifying him. Plantz was issued a (20) twenty day suspension without pay that starts today.