Charleston County’s sheriff said an investigation continues into how an inmate at the county’s jail was able to get out of his cell and assault suspected Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylan Roof as Roof moved to shower Thursday morning.
In a press conference Thursday, Sheriff Al Cannon said his department still has questions about potential violations of jail policy. Those questions include how 25-year-old Dwayne Stafford was able to get through a door that should have been locked and why two of the officers accompanying Roof had apparently not been nearby when the attack happened.
“It seems to me pretty obvious at this point that, at the very least, we have complacency,” Cannon said. “Which, for police officers and detention officers, I believe is one of the biggest challenges that we face.”
Roof, who is being kept in solitary confinement, is required to shower by himself. Officers are required to check the cell doors of other inmates in the unit before removing a solitary individual. Cannon said it’s not clear at this point why another door’s lock failed.
Cannon said a preliminary investigation has also found that one of the officers accompanying Roof to the showers apparently took a brief break, which the sheriff said is not normal protocol. He said the second officer left to bring toilet paper to another inmate just before Stafford broke out of his cell to punch Roof repeatedly. The sheriff said he’s not positive about why the first officer went on break, saying it could have even been a bathroom break.
“It’s a part of what we’re looking at from an internal perspective,” Cannon said. “It’s a part of when I said I think people had become complacent.”
Roof suffered minor injuries in the attack. Cannon said Roof and his attorney have indicated they do not want to seek charges against Stafford, who has been in jail since January 2015 awaiting trial for assault and strong-armed robbery. Cannon said Stafford’s motives are not clear at this point, beyond “the obvious speculation.”
“It certainly serves as a wakeup call to all of us concerned,” he said. “It is obvious that, all up and down the chain, we have to be sure that our folks do not fall prey to the routine.”