The Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation into its staff concluded detention facility officers failed to follow multiple policies the day three inmates escaped from the county jail.
“I feel the escape could have been prevented if the officers performed the duties stated in policy,” Capt. Lloyd Vincent said in a memo to Maj. John Randall. “Instead, they chose not to.”
Cpl. John Bryan, and officers Christina Jordan and Seth Ferguson — three of four detention officers present during the Aug. 17 escape — were fired as result of the investigation into the escape of Jonathan Jackson, 24, Joel Vermillion, 27, and Stacy Wilson, 41.
In his memo to Randall, Vincent states the three officers failed to comply with multiple policies, including periodical facility walk throughs.
Although detention facility policy requires a walk through be completed every 30 minutes, records show the last walk through, the day of the escape, was completed by officers Ferguson and Jordan around 9 a.m.
The cell check log indicates no damage was found to any part of the facility, including the fence, however, Vincent states video review of the walk through shows the officers stopped at the exact spot of the fence where the escape took place.
“Officer Ferguson and officer Jordan walked out onto the recreation yard and looked directly in the area where the detainees escaped from, pointed at it and even had a small discussion about the area,” Vincent wrote. “Officer Ferguson either threw or acted like he was throwing something at the fence.”
Vincent also states the staff failed to maintain the security of the facility.
Statements from Bryan and Ferguson indicate neither was on the yard at the time of the alleged escape. Bryan states after allowing inmates from H-13, which included all three escapees, onto the yard at 2:05 p.m., “I returned to the podium in male housing and began organizing the counter while officer Ferguson passed out jumpsuits to detainees who had not received any the day before.”
Bryan’s statement also shows officer Jordan did not arrive in the male housing unit until after staff was made aware of the escape.
In an interview with Vincent, Jordan also stated she would be unable to give an account of what happened in the moments leading to the escape, because she was only in the male housing one or two times throughout the day. However, Vincent would contend to Randall that Jordan “spent a majority of her day sitting down and bouncing between male and female housing.”
According to authorities, the escapees were able to pull back a fence in the yard and jump a barbed wire fence to escape the facility without being detected.
According to Vincent and officers’ statements, the detention staff was not aware of the escape until it was notified by Conway police.
After being made aware of the escape, Bryan states the unit was then placed on lockdown and all inmates were ordered inside for a headcount. However, officers’ interviews revealed one inmate was left on the recreation yard while the headcount was completed.
The information was originally disclosed to Vincent while conducting an interview with Ferguson.
“When officer Ferguson brought this to Cpl. Bryan’s attention, he stated Cpl. Bryan stated to leave the detainee on the recreation yard and they will get him once they finish the headcount,” Vincent wrote. “At that point, no one had checked the recreation yard and the fence was wide open.”
Vincent writes that when Bryan was presented with this information, he was unable to provide an answer for his decision.
“Cpl. Bryan at first acted as if he did not remember leaving someone on the recreation yard,” Vincent wrote. “He then stated he did not have an answer to why the detainee was left.”
Vincent also states that legal documents were falsified the day of the escape.
Officers’ statements indicate that Jackson, Vermillion and Wilson were identified as the escapees, however, the facility’s recreation log shows all three escapees returning from the recreation yard at 2:32 p.m., along with all other H-13 inmates.
While being interviewed by Vincent, Bryan admitted to incorrectly filling out the log.
“I then asked why he listed those people back in from recreation and (Bryan) stated, ‘the only thing I can think of is that we were so busy, I rushed through it,’” Vincent wrote.
Vincent also states the document was falsified as it stated all inmates returned inside at 2:32 p.m., however, video shows the inmates returned inside at 2:10 and 2:15 p.m.
Vincent contends that Bryan falsified the document “to either cover his tracks or he was just not paying attention.”
Vincent also stated that Ferguson “spent the majority of his day sitting in control and failing to maintain the security of the facility.”
“All three of these officers are senior officers,” Vincent wrote. “There is no excuse for the work they did that day.”
Since their capture, all three escapees have been charged with third-degree escape. Both Wilson and Jackson are currently being held in lieu of a $1 million bond, while Vermillion is being held on no bond, court documents show.
(Staff writer Lee Hogan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1246. Follow Lee Hogan on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LCD_LeeHogan. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)