Another Portage prison inmate accused of assault

Another Portage prison inmate accused of assault

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Felony assault charges have been filed against a 21-year-old Portage inmate after he allegedly spit on corrections officers twice in one year.

Xazavier R. Harrell faces up to three years and six months in prison for each felony offense and the sentences could be increased by four years due to a felony conviction in 2017 on two counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety in Jefferson County.

Columbia Correctional Institution was locked down from Nov. 8 through Dec. 19 due to multiple assaults on staff, the state Department of Corrections said.

According to the criminal complaint filed Wednesday, Harrell first spit on a corrections officer on April 14, 2018. The officer received medical treatment at Divine Savior hospital for exposure to bodily fluids. The officer had been getting Harrell ready to leave his cell for a shower when he asked Harrell to face away from the door as it was being opened. Harrell objected to this and spit in the officer’s face, also making contact with his hat and shirt. The officer used his OC spray to direct Harrell back into his cell.

The complaint states Harrell also spit on a corrections officer on April 2, 2019. The officer had earlier escorted Harrell from his cell to health services for cuts to his arm, for which Harrell received medication. After this Harrell told the officer he was going to take a shower, but the officer said Harrell was out of his cell for a medical assessment, not for a shower. Harrell insisted on taking a shower and then spit on the officer’s forehead.

Court proceedings are not yet scheduled for Harrell in Columbia County Circuit Court.

Other assaults

State officials said in November that CCI was locked down due to an inmate’s Nov. 8 assault of a staff member and two separate staff assaults earlier that year.

In December, felony assault charges were filed against inmate Timothy E. Durley, 30, who is accused of attacking a corrections officer Nov. 8, causing him to lose consciousness and suffer significant facial injuries.

Felony charges were also filed in December against CCI inmates Abdifatah Hassan Ahmed, 28, and Jerome Nathaniel Long, 38, for allegedly attacking corrections officers in 2019.

Regarding the alleged prisoner assaults and the death of 68-year-old inmate Larry Bracey Jr., DOC spokeswoman Molly Dillman Vidal said in an email that “investigations are ongoing, and we cannot comment at this time.”

The death of Bracey appears to be from natural causes, but toxicology test results are still pending, according to an Associated Press report Dec. 11. Paramedics were called to a restrictive housing unit at CCI on Dec. 3, where Bracey was pronounced dead in his cell.

During the lockdown, inmates were primarily confined to their cells and received bagged meals. Phone privileges, visitations and canteen distributions were also suspended, the report said.

Noah Vernau's memorable stories from 2019

Reporter Noah Vernau's memorable stories from 2019 explored school safety funding in Wisconsin, the difficulty schools sometimes have in providing theater programming, how local startup businesses bucked statewide trends to find success and low vaccination rates among children in the region. 

Follow Noah Vernau on Twitter @NoahVernau or contact him at 608-695-4956.

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