Two Beaver County sheriff's deputies were injured when they were attacked by three state inmates doing time at the Beaver County Jail.
One deputy was hospitalized after his jaw was broken in three places, Beaver County Sheriff Cameron Noel told the Deseret Morning News. Deputy Troy Anderson underwent surgery Monday night but is expected to recover. Deputy Tim Joseph was injured coming to Anderson's rescue.
"He's got some pretty substantial injuries," the sheriff said of Anderson. "I believe he'll be able to recover, but it's going to be a long, drawn-out process for him."
Housing state inmates at county facilities prompted a major review of the process and policy last year when two convicted murderers escaped from the Daggett County Jail. They were subsequently recaptured in Wyoming.
At that time, Department of Corrections officials decided to pull first-degree felons out of county jails. A spokeswoman for the department, however, said Monday's attack involved second- and third-degree felons.
"They fall under the group of inmates who are appropriate to be housed in county jails," said spokeswoman Angie Welling. "That's the agreement we made with all the county sheriffs. But we're always open to take another look."
Noel said the three state inmates being housed at the Beaver County Jail attacked Anderson on Monday afternoon as they were coming in from the recreation yard.
"It was planned out," Noel said. "They jumped him and did what they did to him. They attacked him and got him down on the ground. Within seconds we had another guard come in (Joseph), and they assaulted him."
Deputies swarmed the three inmates and got them into lockdown. They were transported by a Utah Department of Corrections SWAT team to the Utah State Prison in Draper, where they are being held in maximum security.
"The investigation is ongoing," Welling said. "We are working with the Beaver County Sheriff's Office to investigate the incident."
Noel said the inmates have refused to talk.
"They're seasoned prisoners," he said, adding that the three are members of a Polynesian gang and believed to have carried out the attack to elevate their status.
The Utah Department of Corrections identified the inmates as:
• Samisoni Kefu, 20, who is serving time for aggravated assault, burglary and assault by a prisoner.
• Sione Takai, 22, who is serving time for robbery.
• Christopher Olague, 19, who is serving time for forgery, obstruction of justice and false information to a peace officer.
Noel said the incident remains under investigation, but he said it is an isolated incident and did not believe there were any security lapses.
The Utah Department of Corrections yanked all of its first-degree felons out of county jails following the escape of an inmate from the Beaver County Jail last year and the escapes of two convicted killers from the Daggett County Jail.
The escapes prompted an audit by the Department of Corrections of security lapses at county jails across the state and questions by top officials, including the governor, over the practice of housing state inmates in county facilities.
Many county sheriffs have since complained that the department's decision has left them with more problematic inmates rather than the easier to manage first-degree felons.
The sheriff said he did not believe that Anderson or Joseph were singled out in Monday's attack."In my opinion, it was whoever came to let them out," Noel said. "He was the one that was there that let them out."