Inmate incident during transport from Bell County to Harlan County
From WRIL -
On Thursday September 5, 2019 at 1:19pm Harlan County Dispatch - which handles several departments – received a call from a passerby of an incident on Kentucky 38. The caller, identified as Doug Burkhart by KSP Public Affairs Trooper Shane Jacobs, stated that an inmate fell out of a Bell County Detention Center transport vehicle. The incident occurred while Taylor and two other inmates were being moved for court appearances.
Dispatch at that point then paged out the Harlan County Sheriff’s Department and Lifeguard Ambulance Service in Harlan who responded shortly afterward.
While there were three total inmates being transported, the inmate that jumped has been identified as 38-year-old Charles “Chuck” Taylor with addresses on file of Baxter, Harlan, Loyall, Wallins, and most recently Middlesboro. Taylor has a lengthy criminal history as far back as 2001 with charges ranging from drug possession, DUI, motor vehicle traffic offenses, felon in possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed deadly weapon, criminal mischief, fleeing or evading police, manufacturing methamphetamine, menacing, multiple failure to appear charges, and most notably eight charges over the years for escape.
The transport deputy jailer, identified as Brandon Banks, stated to Jailer Ferguson who we have spoken to, that temperatures that day were close to 95 degrees and the back of the vehicle had no air circulation due to a divider in the car. Banks states that he rolled the back window down partially to allow air into the vehicle and at that point inmate Taylor – who was handcuffed and shackled - was able to get through the window enough to open the door from the outside and jump out.
Due to spotty coverage in cellphone and radio signal in the area, Banks states he was unable to contact anyone to report the incident, but that when Harlan County Deputies and Lifeguard arrived on scene the area was secured and an examination of Taylor began. The other two inmates were returned to the Harlan County Detention Center.
Due to injuries sustained in the accident, Taylor ended up in the Pikeville Medical Center with head trauma and family members tell WRIL than he has undergone 3 surgeries with part of his skull removed at one point to relieve swelling on the brain.
Family member Sharon Lee tells WRIL that she first spoke to Kentucky State Police who advised her to speak to the Harlan County Detention Center who then advised that she speak to the Harlan County Police and finally Bell County Jailer Gary Ferguson. Lee also stated that she was not getting the answers she was looking for from speaking to authorities.
WRIL has also contacted the Kentucky Department of Corrections and Director for the Division of Local Facilities Kirstie R. Willard has given us this statement:
“The Bell County Detention Center notified DOC staff and subsequently submitted an Extraordinary Occurrence Report regarding the 9/5/19 attempted escape of county prisoner Charles Taylor, as required by 501 KAR 3:020. This report includes information submitted by Jailer Ferguson with regards to the circumstances surrounding this incident.
Additionally, the report indicates that local law enforcement and KY State Police were also notified, which is standard procedure. Law enforcement would be responsible for any investigation with regards to possible criminal conduct that may have occurred.”
Trooper Shane Jacobs tells us that Kentucky State Police have no involvement in this incident.
Jailer Ferguson tells WRIL that he spoke with Kentucky State Police on Monday September 16th. He states that he requested that the incident be investigated, but the Trooper he spoke to could find no reason to open a criminal case other than an attempted escape charge. Due to Taylor being apprehended immediately that was not necessary.
Charles Taylor has been moved to the University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington for more in depth treatment of his injuries.
After an internal investigation by Jailer Ferguson Deputy, Jailer Brandon Banks has been suspended without pay for not following protocol regarding the window being partially rolled down for air circulation during transport.