Shelby County corrections officer says he was locked in cell for hours

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Shelby County corrections officer recalled a traumatic experience at work when he got locked in a high-security cell that he was supposed to be guarding.

He said he went in to clean the cell and told another officer to watch for him, but ended up stuck inside for hours.

"I went ahead and stood in the cell and waited for him to close the door with me inside. He did that, so I started cleaning from behind the door," Steven Reed said.

But Reed said once he finished cleaning, the door never opened.

As time went on, he got alarmed.

"Specific amount of time rolled by; 10 minutes. I started looking at the time. I was like, 'Did he forget about me?'" he said.

Reed said that began the longest four hours of his life.

The deputy started banging on the cement door, but the only people who heard him were the other inmates.

"They started kicking when I started kicking. They were hollering over me to make it so that my plea for help was a disruptive noise," he said.

He thought another guard would come check on the noise, but they never did. Reed called that a violation of protocol.

He is diabetic, so he realized he needed to calm down.

About four hours later, at 6 a.m., the next shift of workers finally came in and found him.

He said he was irate when he got released from the cell and hasn't been able to return to work since the April incident.

He hoped the sheriff would make a policy change to raise the same alert for missing employees as they do for missing inmates.

Earle Farrell, spokesman for the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, released a statement saying, "Any incident which places an employee in jeopardy is very serious. A thorough investigation by the Sheriff's Office is in progress."

Reed said he plans to file a lawsuit against the county within the coming months.

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