Inmate hurt in attack, released from hospital

Another prisoner charged with assault

10/19/2013
BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Johnson.
Johnson.

An inmate attacked in the Lucas County Corrections Center by another inmate has been released from the hospital.

Fobbs.
Fobbs.

Austin Johnson, 21, of Maumee, who was allegedly punched and stomped Oct. 12 by Archie Fobbs, 24, of Toledo, returned to the jail Thursday from Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center.

On Friday, Mr. Johnson was arraigned by video in Sylvania Municipal Court on four felony charges related to the robbery of a Tim Hortons in Holland. His total bond was set at $200,000.

Sheriff John Tharp said Mr. Johnson is under medical observation at the jail and is separated from Fobbs, who was charged with felonious assault in connection with the attack. Authorities expect Mr. Johnson to make a full recovery.

The attack took place in a common area of the jail shortly after Mr. Johnson was booked.

Authorities said the incident occurred quickly, just seconds after a corrections officer left a common area where about a dozen inmates were gathered.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Gorney said the corrections officer was in the area “immediately before the incident took place.” As soon as the officer walked out, Fobbs punched Mr. Johnson, who was knocked unconscious, fell to the ground, and then was stomped in the face two or three times until another inmate intervened, Sergeant Gorney said. He estimated the assault lasted about 10 seconds.

The officer who had left the room heard “a boom” and was back at the scene within roughly 20 seconds, the sergeant said.

He did not witness the attack and found the victim on the floor with no one nearby, Sergeant Gorney said. Initially, the officer thought Mr. Johnson had suffered a seizure or other medical problem. Jail medical staff and emergency medical staff were alerted, and Mr. Johnson was taken to the hospital. He was put in a medically induced coma as part of his treatment, according to his family and authorities.

Sergeant Gorney said as responders arrived, the officer started to think “something wasn’t right about the whole scene” and began to suspect an assault had occurred.

That’s when jail staff reviewed videotape and saw the attack, he said.

Sheriff Tharp said the officer in the control booth who monitors live video feeds of the area didn’t see the incident unfold.

“It’s impossible to look at every TV at one time,” Sheriff Tharp said.

Authorities don’t know what prompted the attack.

“This is one of the most brutal beatings I’ve ever seen,” Sergeant Gorney said. “It was just senseless.”

Sheriff Tharp said the jail’s layout and budget constraints that limit staffing are among challenges that make it difficult to prevent such incidents.

“It’s going to be impossible for us to be able to monitor everyone at the same time because of [these] type of conditions,” he said.

He said adding another person to the control booth would not mean that every screen is watched at all times.

The sheriff said one of the best ways to prevent assaults is to aggressively pursue char-ges against the attacker.

“We aren’t going to wait for the victims to file charges,” he said, adding that when inmates know they will face additional charges, it deters assaults.

Fobbs had been booked into the jail Oct. 11 on several misdemeanors, including assault.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6056, or on Twitter @vanmccray.