MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner says an investigation is underway and new measures have been put into place after an inmate was killed at the criminal justice center nearly two weeks ago.
Sheriff Bonner spoke for the first time Wednesday about the death of Deion Byrd, a detainee at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center who was stabbed in the neck by another inmate as he waited to see a judge.
The inmate, Donnie Clay, is facing charges of first-degree murder and taking contraband into a penal facility.
“Of course, you take it personal,” Bonner said. “You hate it for the family, the victims of the family, again our condolences to them, but you hate it for the family, you hate it for the community. I hate that I have to sit down and do this interview with you.”
The deadly incident happened on October 26, several days after Bonner’s office put out a statement. But Wednesday is the first time we’ve directly spoken to the sheriff about the lapse in policies as to how another detainee was armed with a makeshift knife.
The sheriff cited being out of town as he’s dealt with other family issues but says change is happening behind the scenes.
We asked him how the weapon made it into the criminal justice center.
“Obviously Shay, it was contraband,” Bonner said. “We’re trying to see what we missed, where did we miss it at, who missed it.”
Bonner said there are policies and procedures in place where officers are supposed to pat-search detainees. He told us about new measures now in place and changes in training.
“We have metal detectors in the tunnel as every detainee when they’re going to court now, they must go through the metal detector. We have hand wands, as you know, when you go to concerts or a Grizzlies game, you see the staff wanding you,” he said.
Those waiting to see a judge can no longer walk around as freely behind the courtroom.
“We put iBOLTS in benches and so we’re using handcuffs there now to put them on a cuff in the bench so they can’t walk around,” Bonner said.
The sheriff’s team is now interviewing inmates who were there the day of the attack as well as deputies.
“We’re going back looking at video tapes from where the suspect came out of his cell, was he searched properly, who did the search, when he went down to the tunnel, was he searched,” Bonner said.
Sheriff Bonner also cited the staffing is hundreds of corrections deputies short but they are excited because they have 25 recruits, a number they haven’t seen since before COVID.
As far as the current investigation goes, Bonner said his office hopes to be finished in about a week.