Gilchrist jail undergoes changes in wake of inmate death

Published: Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 4:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 4:43 p.m.

The Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office fired one officer and accepted the resignation of another following the death of an inmate in early August. The agency has now made changes in how the county's jail operates after reviewing the incident.

Georgia resident Callen Quinton Kincaid, 34, died Aug. 4 at the Gilchrist County jail, where he was being held after his arrest in connection with an alleged anhydrous ammonia theft. Another inmate, Andrew Ward, 21, is accused of manslaughter in Kincaid's death.

According to an internal report released to The Sun on Tuesday morning, Ward attacked Kincaid at 12:10 a.m. on Aug. 2 inside the cell the men were sharing. Ward is accused of hitting Kincaid multiple times in the face with a clenched fist, which resulted in Kincaid falling to the floor and apparently striking his head on the cement floor of the cell and leaving him with visible injuries. Sheriff's Office investigators said they have not uncovered a motive for the fight.

In his summary of the investigation, Maj. Leonard L. Knuckles said Kincaid's injuries went unnoticed for the next six hours by the two officers on duty at the jail because they "failed to make the hourly security checks as required by policy." The injuries were noted at 8 a.m. by the next shift of officers, who called an ambulance to the jail, Knuckles said.

Kincaid reportedly refused medical treatment but did allow the emergency medical workers to check his blood pressure, pulse and pupils. The ambulance crew reportedly told jail staff that Kincaid did not require medical treatment and would not be taken to a hospital. However, the crew recommended that Kincaid be given an ice pack to reduce the swelling of his head injuries and said they should be called if there was a change in his situation -- for example, if he became dizzy.

Jail records showed that at 9:35 a.m., an ambulance crew was called back to the jail and Kincaid was taken to Shands at the University of Florida, where he was admitted to the intensive care unit and diagnosed with a right frontal bruise. On Aug. 3, he was transferred to a bed on a regular unit and was released from the hospital on Aug. 4.

Kincaid was checked back into the jail at 8 p.m. on Aug. 4 and placed in an observation cell, where he was reportedly being checked on every 15 minutes. He was pronounced dead at 9:15 p.m. after being found not breathing on the bunk of the observation cell.

An autopsy was performed to determine the cause of Kincaid's death, but the results of the medical examiner's findings will not be released until toxicology test results are released, a process that may take another six weeks.

The criminal investigation into Kincaid's death was continuing this week while the Sheriff's Office was overseeing changes at the jail, including hiring replacements for the only two officers on duty at the time of the fight between Ward and Kincaid.

Full-time Corrections Officer Aaron Snyder, 27, of Bell was suspended with pay on Aug. 5 and fired on Aug. 12 as a result of the finding of the internal investigation, according to Snyder's personnel file. He had worked at the jail since April 2007.

Part-time Corrections Officer Catherine Parsells, 40, of Cross City, resigned on Aug. 7. Parsells' hand-written resignation stated that she was resigning because, "At this time I feel that I need to resign due to stress and family health."

Parsells is also employed as a correctional officer at Cross City Correctional Institution. Among the jobs Parsells held before being hired anywhere as a correctional officer was a four-year stint as a patient care attendant at Shands at AGH, according to her personnel file.

Knuckles said that he is overseeing the removal of distractions from the jail that may have played a part in the officers not checking on the approximately three dozen inmates in the jail for several hours.

"Some of these are things that we had been planning to do, but this situation expedited our plans," Knuckles said.

At the top of the list is the removal of a television from an office in the jail.

"The television was put there a few years ago for the jail staff to keep track of hurricanes," said Maj. Tony Smith.

The majors said the office where the television had been kept will also be locked except for when a sergeant or other higher-ranking jail employee is on duty. And a restriction on reading while on duty at the 42-bed jail will be strictly enforced.

"The only things that need to be read while on duty are materials directly related to working here," Knuckles said.

New, larger monitors for security cameras are also being installed to make it easier to see what is happening at various places, the majors said.

"The job of the correctional officers is to watch the inmates, and we are going to make sure that they are doing that while they are on duty," Smith said.

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