Texas inmates break out of cell to help jailer

NEW YORK • A group of inmates has broken out of a Texas holding cell to help save their jailer after they saw him lose consciousness.

Video footage showed at least six inmates breaching the door of a basement holding cell in the Weatherford District Courts Building when the lone, armed guard slumped and fell, according to a report in The Guardian.

The inmates were handcuffed and awaiting court appearances, Captain Mark Arnett with the Parker County Sheriff's Office told NBC News.

They yelled for help, broke out of the cell and banged on doors, bringing other officers running, despite knowing they were putting themselves in danger.

Inmate Nick Kelton told TV station WFAA: "We were worried they were going to come with guns drawn on us."

Fellow inmate Floyd Smith said officers thought it was a fight. "They thought we were taking over," he said.

Sergeant Ryan Speegle from Parker County Sheriff's Office said he did not know what to expect when he reached the cells. Given that the unconscious officer had keys and a firearm, "it could have been an extremely bad situation", he said.

Deputies called for emergency personnel, who performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the guard and used a defibrillator, said NBC news.

"He stopped breathing. They couldn't find a pulse on him," Capt Arnett said.

Kelton added: "It never crossed my mind not to help, whether he's got a gun or a badge. If he falls down, I'm gonna help him."

Capt Arnett praised the inmates' quick response, saying 15 minutes could have passed before the guard was found.

Surveillance footage from the building on June 23 shows officers ushering the inmates back into the holding cell.

But should such an incident happen again, it may not be so easy for prisoners to come to a guard's aid.

The holding cell had only a "pretty flimsy lock gate" on it, unlike the reinforced doors of jail cells, Capt Arnett said. But it has now been reinforced.

The jailer, who does not want to be identified, is healthy again and was due to return to work yesterday, Capt Arnett said.

The precise medical condition he suffered has not been disclosed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2016, with the headline 'Texas inmates break out of cell to help jailer'. Print Edition | Subscribe