MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis family is grieving after an inmate was fatally stabbed by another inmate inside the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center.
Chaos quickly turned a Shelby County courtroom into a crime scene Thursday morning.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said 25-year-old Deion Byrd, an inmate at 201 Poplar, was stabbed in the neck. Deputies say the unidentified suspect is another inmate who happened to get a shank from his cell to the courtroom.
Laquita Byrd is trying to wrap her mind around the unimaginable.
“He’s gone and you are supposed to be in the safest place. You at 201 Poplar. All the metal detectors, all the sheriff’s deputies. This is unheard of to me,” she said. “I don’t understand.”
Mrs. Byrd said she learned of the tragedy from her son’s lawyer.
“Yeah, he got into some trouble or whatever, but that just mean you made bad mistakes. That don’t make you a bad person, and I feel like I know my son didn’t deserve this,” she said.
Marcus Byrd, the victim’s father, told WREG he was at work at the courthouse when he found out.
“You thinking they should have the right to be safe even though they committed different crimes. My son wasn’t perfect, but he shouldn’t have been killed going to court,” he said.
Judge Paula Skahan agrees. Records show Byrd was on her docket for a first-degree murder case.
“I was just taking the bench and I heard yelling,” said Judge Skahan. “Anybody could have been attacked. I just don’t understand how this can happen.”
Skahan said elevators were not working during the incident, so Byrd, who was stabbed in the neck, left a bloody trail throughout the courtroom as he was rushed to Regional One, where he later died.
WREG tried several times to reach Sheriff Floyd Bonner by phone, in person, and by email. But we were told he was unavailable.
To get a better understanding of protocol, we spoke with former jailer Jonathan Irvin who said there are multiple security levels that should have prevented a deadly court hearing.
“Any deputies that were in charge of that inmate, all of them are responsible, every one of them. He got that far, he was not, he couldn’t have been pat down,” Irvin said.
Sadly, the Byrd family said this is the second son of theirs that has been killed and they want justice.
The sheriff’s office is not identifying the suspect at this time.