Delaware prison instructor says he was fired for talking about riot

Four people are charged with murder, kidnapping and other crimes in the February 2017 riot at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. (WHYY)

Four people are charged with murder, kidnapping and other crimes in the February 2017 riot at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. (WHYY)

A former prison culinary instructor is suing Delaware education officials in federal court, claiming he was wrongfully fired for speaking about a deadly prison riot and hostage taking.

In a complaint Monday, Anthony Stella claims state officials violated his free speech rights and breached his employment contract by terminating him without just cause.

Stella was working at Delaware’s maximum-security prison when inmates seized a building on Feb. 1, killing a guard and taking three other staffers hostage.

Stella says he spoke to a reporter that day about the incident as “a private citizen on a matter of public interest.” He also posted his thoughts on Facebook but deleted them after being contacted by a supervisor.

Stella was later informed that he was being terminated for misconduct and neglect of duty.

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