Delaware governor launches investigation into prison hostage situation

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(NewsWorks/File)

(NewsWorks/File)

The State of Delaware plans to organize several investigations into a prison hostage situation that led to the death of a corrections officer.

Last Wednesday inmates at the James Vaughn Correctional Facility in Dover took three correctional officers and a counselor hostage during a 19-hour ordeal. Investigators say 120 inmates are considered potential suspects in the incident leading to Lt. Steven Floyd’s death.

On Tuesday, Gov. John Carney, D-Delaware, said he will order an independent investigation for an objective assessment of the incident. A state police criminal investigation is ongoing, and there also will be a Department of Corrections internal affairs investigation, he said.

The independent review will focus on the immediate and underlying causes of the hostage incident, and the reviewer will develop a series of actionable recommendations to prevent a similar situation from happening in the future, Carney said. He said it will begin after the criminal investigation is complete, and he will have more information by mid-February.

“The focus will be on the ones related to the incident itself, the causes of that so we can prevent it from happening again, as well as some of the issues that might have affected it in a tangential kind of way—so we have a lot of work ahead of us,” he said.

Carney said one of the top questions remaining is how the incident happened in the first place.

“One of the more difficult things to do will be how you establish a fact pattern when you have a handful of correctional officers there in the building and you will have to rely on testimony of inmates whose credibility may not be the best,” he said. “I’ve already heard different versions of what happened. We need to figure out the facts are and go from there.”

State Sen. Bruce Ennis, D-Smyrna, who heads the corrections and public safety committee, said while an investigation is underway it is too early to speculate what happened in the prison.

“This is a time to grieve for Lt. Steven Floyd, his family, and all those who knew him and worked with him. But we also must remember there’s an ongoing criminal investigation. Public speculation about what happened isn’t only premature, but it could put justice for Lieutenant Floyd in jeopardy,” he said in a statement.

“Rest assured, we will learn much more about what happened behind those walls in the days ahead, and once we do, we need to come together as a state to do everything humanly possible to prevent another incident like this one.”

Floyd will be laid to rest this Saturday. Due to his family’s wishes, media are not permitted to attend the viewing or funeral.

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