A former correctional officer is facing charges after authorities said he allowed an inmate into another inmate’s cell, then locked him in ahead of an attack with a homemade knife.
Oscar L. Torres, 37, of Beaufort, was arrested Tuesday and charged with misconduct in office. The state Department of Corrections said in a release on Wednesday that Torres was a lieutenant at Ridgeland Correctional Institution in Jasper County.
A booking photo was not immediately available.
On May 31, Torres unlocked the door to an inmate’s cell, “willfully allowed” another inmate to enter, then “secured the door eliminating any opportunity for escape,” according to an arrest warrant. The document said the inmate he allowed into the cell then began stabbing the cell’s resident with a makeshift knife.
The names of the inmates involved were redacted.
That same day, the prison system posted on Twitter that four inmates were injured in a fight between two groups of inmates. The tweet added: “No staff were injured.”
A release did not say if the stabbing was part of this fight.
The fight was contained to one housing unit. All four were treated at hospitals near the medium-security prison and released the same day.
A wrongful death lawsuit filed weeks ahead of that attack alleges the facility has “a long history of overcrowding and failing to provide adequate security and supervision over the inmates located at the facility.”
The lawsuit was filed by the estate of Jerry Douglas Holmes, who was fatally stabbed June 21, 2017. No assailant has been identified in his death.
Another lawsuit filed in May — this one on behalf of Kevin Davis — says Ridgeland Correctional “has a long history of violence among inmates housed in the institution” and alleges the prison system has been complicit in acts of violence.
According to the civil complaint, Davis was assaulted by his roommate, Stanley Shamble, in 2016.
“Inmate Shamble attacked Plaintiff Davis, slamming him into a wall locker causing him to suffer injury to his neck and back and then Inmate Shamble bit Plaintiff Davis on his face under both eyes,” the document said.
No one came when Davis called for help, the filing said, and he has suffered long-term effects, including scarring and blurred vision.
Shamble has not been charged in connection with the attack, but was disciplined for fighting without a weapon.
The department denies wrongdoing in both cases.
The Ridgeland-based facility houses fewer than 1,000 male inmates.