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INVESTIGATION: Documents suggest DOC concealed lockdown

The Missouri Department of Corrections called reports of a lockdown at Tipton Correctional Center “false” on Oct. 4, but an internal memo from the prison’s warden directly contradicts that statement.

“We have received false reports of a major disturbance and lockdown at Tipton Correctional Center,” the department said in a news release. “These reports are inaccurate.”

An internal memo from TCC warden Dan Redington that was sent to ABC 17 News by multiple department employees said “several major events” occurred Oct. 3 and that, “because of the events, the institution was put on lockdown status and all offenders were sent to their units for the day.”

The DOC said in its press release that a pair of separate altercations resulted in two corrections officers suffering minor injuries. It reiterated, however, that there was no lockdown on Oct. 3.

A corrections employee notified ABC 17 News about a lockdown at TCC that same afternoon. For the next 24 hours, requests for confirmation of the lockdown went unanswered by the department of corrections.

According to employees at the facility, the lockdown at TCC was lifted around 10 a.m. Oct. 4. The first public comment from the Department of Corrections was a social media post at 3:38 p.m. along with a link to the news release.

Department spokeswoman Karen Pojmann declined to be interviewed on camera, but said she may have been misinformed about what happened at Tipton last week. Pojmann said it’s likely Redington said “lockdown” in the memo but actually meant a controlled movement and inmate count.

ABC 17 News uncovered a copy of a Serious Incident Report filed for Oct. 3, which said that a “code 60” was called in response to an inmate’s attempt to climb a fence. A code 60 was described as a “total institutional lock down.”

The summary report for the Oct. 3 second shift includes not two reports of staff injuries, but three.

The report said offender Andre VanTreece assaulted two corrections officers at 8:29 a.m. Oct. 3 and offender Brandon David assaulted another officer. Both VanTreece and David were transferred to Jefferson City Correctional Center.

This is in direct contradiction to the department’s press news which said, “On Wednesday morning, two officers were assaulted and sustained minor injuries in two separate altercations, each involving a single officer and a single offender. No additional assaults, injuries or structural damage to the facility have been reported.”

In July, when an inmate disturbance rendered a housing unit uninhabitable and others damaged, the department called it “a minor incident.” Personal property and paperwork were spread throughout the housing unit, Pojmann said.

The department described the entire disturbance as “minor.”

Photos taken at housing unit 18 show the destruction that occurred the night of July 4. Pojmann said because so little of the damage was structural, the facility has since cleaned it up. However, the unit is not currently being used, Pojmann said.

ABC 17 News has made multiple public records requests to the Tipton Correctional Center and the Department of Corrections requesting more information about this story. ABC 17 is waiting for those requests to be fulfilled.


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