Prison officer out of hospital after attack

EVERETT — A corrections officer who was knocked unconscious and assaulted by an inmate at the Monroe Correctional Complex on Thursday morning has been released from a Seattle hospital.

Officer Nick Trout, 28, was tackled to the concrete floor and repeatedly punched in the face, according to court papers. He was taken to an Everett hospital before being transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Cheek bones on both sides of his jaw were fractured and he was evaluated for possible brain injuries, court papers said.

The officer, who has worked at the Monroe prison since 2008, was released around midnight Friday, Monroe prison superintendent Robert Herzog said.

The inmate was identified as Jimi James Hamilton, 33. who was housed in the Special Offender Unit for mentally ill offenders. He was booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of assault.

Hamilton is accused of tackling and punching the correctional officer who was working inside a living unit. Other correctional officers quickly came to Trout’s aid. The incident lasted about seven seconds.

Hamilton was in a recreation room outside of some cells; the officer was working at a desk that controls doors and movements.

Around 10 a.m., Hamiliton had a conversation with Trout at the desk. Hamilton told Trout that he wanted to talk to higher ranking officers to file a grievance, court papers said.

The conversation became heated, witnesses told Monroe police who are investigating the case.

Trout ordered Hamilton back to his cell and the inmate initially complied and began walking away.

Moments later, he allegedly turned around and charged towards the officer, hitting him hard enough to knock him off his feet and onto the concrete floor. Hamilton then he punched him in the face multiple times, witnesses told investigators.

“Officer Trout is motionless the entire time, both on video, and by witness accounts,” court papers said. “Officer Trout is unable to make any attempts to defend himself.”

Other corrections staff separated Hamilton from the officer and he walked back into his cell.

Herzog, the superintendent, said the Special Offender Unit houses the most seriously ill offenders in the state prison system. The nature of their illnesses presents challenges that require a unique set of skills for staff. Even with extensive training and successful prisoner-management strategies, there are no guarantees the inmates won’t attack, he said.

Herzog reviewed the videotape after the incident. He said he didn’t detect any body language that would have hinted that the inmate was contemplating an attack on the officer. Moments later, the inmate “blindsides him and knocks him to the ground,” Herzog said.

While police conduct a criminal investigation, prison staff will take an internal look at what happened. That’s standard “to see if we need to change existing procedures” to improve safety, Herzog said.

The Special Offenders Unit houses about 350 mentally ill inmates.

Hamilton is serving a 14-year sentence for two counts of robbery in Pierce County. His earliest possible release date is May 2018.

He could face new charges of custodial assault. That could extend his prison sentence.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com.

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