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Massachusetts: Guards Suspended, Accused of Threatening to Kill Escaped Prisoner in Scheme to Generate Overtime
On April 25, 2011, with ten months left to serve on a 2½ to 4 year sentence for gun charges, Tamik Kirkland, 24, placed a dummy in his bed and walked away from a minimum-security prison in Shirley, Massachusetts. Authorities believe he may have been motivated to escape because his mother had recently been shot.
Five days after escaping, Kirkland allegedly shot and killed Sheldon Innocent, 24, at a Springfield barbershop; a barber was also wounded in the shootout. Minutes later, Kirkland exchanged gunfire with state and city police, non-fatally shooting two officers.
After being shot at least five times himself, Kirkland was taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, where he was listed in critical condition and placed under 24-hour guard by both police and prison staff.
Several days later, a series of phone calls was made to Kirkland’s hospital room. In one of those calls a male voice said, “I’m coming there and I’m going to kill you.” The nurse who took the call immediately informed the officers guarding Kirkland of the threat. In the ensuing investigation, Springfield police traced the call to a cell phone connected to a prison employee.
Two DOC guards were subsequently suspended as law enforcement officials investigated whether they made the threatening phone calls and, if so, whether the calls were part of a scheme to ensure that DOC officials would order more overtime shifts to guard Kirkland. After the calls, Kirkland was moved to a prison medical facility.
“When a DOC investigation revealed that a number of calls made to Baystate Medical Center – some of which were threatening in nature – may have involved DOC staff, immediate action was taken,” said DOC spokesperson Diane Wiffin.
However, Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni asked the DOC to suspend its internal investigation so his office could look into whether any crimes were committed. “I didn’t want it investigated administratively,” he said.
In July 2011, DOC sergeant Adam Demoranville, one of the two guards who had been suspended, pleaded not guilty to threatening to commit a crime and disorderly conduct.
He is accused of making the threatening phone calls to Kirk-land’s hospital room. Demoranville was released on his own recognizance and ordered to have no contact with the Baystate Medical Center.
An investigation by the DOC found that Kirkland was able to escape because a guard did not adequately conduct prisoner checks and a prison supervisor failed to follow proper procedures. Also, Kirkland had a contraband cellphone that he used to facilitate his escape; he reportedly obtained the phone from an employee of a DOC vendor.
“Inmate Kirkland’s escape was due to staff procedural errors and staff misconduct, and was not the result of systemic failures,” the DOC investigative report stated. “No changes in DOC policies or procedures are required.”
Sources: Boston Globe, The Republican, www.telegram.com
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