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Day 4: Cheyenne Unit remains on lockdown after riot

Cheyenne Unit remains on lockdown after riot

SAN LUIS, Ariz. - UPDATE (10:11AM.)

The Arizona Department of Corrections has confirmed that all inmates at ASPC- Yuma's Cheyenne Unit were returned to their dormitory buildings Monday evening following the quick completion of critical housing unit repairs by ADC maintenance personnel.

Day four and the Cheyenne Unit of the Arizona State Prison in San Luis, Ariz. remains under lockdown. 

The Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) said they’re still working to address the disturbance. 

This means that visitations at the Cheyenne Unit are closed until further notice. Over the weekend, Arizona State Prison Complex-Yuma reopened and resumed normal operations at its other four units (La Paz, Cibola, Cocopah, and Dakota), which had been locked down following the disturbance at Cheyenne.

On Friday, ADC Director Charles Ryan traveled to Yuma to personally assess and communicate with staff onsite.
 

The incident that triggered the disturbance began with an inmate being escorted across the recreation yard who appeared to be under the influence, according to ADC.
 

This inmate attempted to assault the escorting officers and then ran away from them. The officers pursued him in the yard. This activity resulted in other inmates spontaneously attacking the officers.
 

At around approximately 6:18 p.m., most of the inmates of this 1,124 bed, medium custody, dormitory environment were outside in the yard at this time.
 
Both sides of the unit began attacking prison employees, breaking property (windows, toilets, sinks, etc.) and gained access to the dormitory officer stations as well. Inmates pulled mattresses and other property outside of the dormitories and started fires in the yard.
 
Two quick response weapons teams were deployed to prevent inmates from trying to gain access to the ‘no man’s zone’ fenced area. Yuma’s tactical support unit (TSU) team was activated to regain order from the inmates who had broken into the medical/health unit building. Inmates were attacking prison personnel using tables as shields when shotguns were deployed. 
 
Preliminary autopsy results of inmate Adam J. Coppa, ADC# 180398, indicates that he died as a result of a gunshot wound. His death remains under investigation.

According to online inmate records database, Coppa was sentenced to three years for 2017 convictions for possession of dangerous drugs and other offenses. But because of credit for time served, he was scheduled for release this September.
 
ADC personnel brought the disturbance under control by approximately 9:00 p.m. and all inmates were secured in the outside recreation enclosures and placed in flex cuffs.
 
The local law enforcement response from Yuma County Sheriff’s Office, Yuma & San Luis Police Departments, FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and others provided resources to maintain the perimeter.
 
ADC transferred 44 inmates on Sunday from Cheyenne to the maximum-custody Eyman complex in Florence. Additional inmates have been placed in detention units, pending criminal investigations and/or movement.
 
Inmates that are considered elderly and in poorer health have been placed in alternate housing.
 
All other inmates involved in the disturbance have remained on the recreation yards since Thursday. They are receiving necessary provisions and care, including meals, water, prescribed medications, blankets, coats, and sunscreen and have access to medical care and porta-johns.
 
TSU teams from Lewis, Tucson, and Perryville have been onsite to provide rotation relief for the Yuma team.
 
The initial damage estimate is approximately $475,000 and repairs remain in process, with many priority repairs having been completed already.

 

As we reported Friday, 11 employees sustained minor injuries and were treated.
 
Up two from Friday’s update, a total of 28 inmates were treated at the hospital. 25 have returned to the complex.
 
Staffing levels were not a factor in leading to Thursday’s disturbance. 33 of the unit’s 35 designated posts were staffed by correctional officers on duty at the time, along with two shift supervisors. Moreover, the Yuma complex has the lowest staff vacancy rate of all state-run prisons. Currently, the complex has zero correctional officer vacancies. 

According to the Arizona Department of Corrections, the motive behind the riot is still under investigation.

For viewers that have been trying to get in contact with their loved ones in the Cheyenne Unit, email your questions at iffliaison@azcorrections.gov or call (602)364-3945. 


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