Bathroom brawl at San Juan County Adult Detention Center erupts into jail riot

Steve Garrison
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Jail guards struggled for more than an hour to control inmates at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center on Sunday morning after a bathroom brawl erupted into a riot.

One guard was treated Sunday for a fractured eye socket and several other inmates and guards suffered minor injuries as a result of the incident, according to a San Juan County Sheriff's Office press release. Guards were dispatched at 2:30 a.m. to the bathroom area of one of the jail pods after receiving reports of a fight between two inmates, the release states.

The fight ended by the time guards arrived, the release states, but one guard was then attacked by an inmate not involved in the initial fight.

Other inmates and guards joined the fray, according to the release, and four inmates were eventually subdued and removed from the pod.

Surveillance footage released by the Sheriff's Office shows that more than a dozen other inmates were uncooperative and refused to follow orders to return to their jail cells.

Guards corralled the remaining inmates in the upper area of the pod and then ordered them to exit one at a time. The inmates were removed from the pod and placed into segregated units, according to the release.

Farmington police officers and sheriff's deputies assisted guards in subduing the prisoners. Detective Lt. Cory Tanner said that tear gas was not used.

The Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident and additional charges are expected to be filed against the inmates that participated in the riot.

Jail administrator Tom Havel did not respond to a request for comment.

Sunday was not the first time inmates at the jail disobeyed orders en masse.

In November 2012, 22 prisoners at the jail were disciplined for refusing to return to their cells after eating breakfast, according to The Daily Times archives.

The men were upset because they were refused a second helping of milk and heckled guards in the jail cafeteria.

Local law enforcement officers were dispatched to the jail and guards eventually subdued the men using tear gas, the archives state.

No one was injured in that incident.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.