CCA denies liability in Tenn. policeman’s shooting

Published 11:04 pm Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Private prison operator Corrections Corporation of America is denying responsibility in the shooting of a Nashville police officer, allegedly by an escaped inmate.

Sgt. Mark Chesnut claims in a lawsuit filed in October that the Nashville-based company was negligent in Joseph Jackson Jr.’s escape from an offsite doctor’s office while he was an inmate of CCA’s Delta Correctional Facility in Greenwood, Miss.

Chesnut stopped a rental car carrying Jackson and his cousin — Courtney Logan of Louisville, Ky. — on June 25, just hours after the escape.

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Chesnut was seated in his cruiser, checking the auto license and Logan’s driver’s license, when he was shot. He has since returned to light duty.

The Tennessean reports CCA, in its response to the suit, denies that its actions caused Chesnut’s shooting and says the liability rests with Logan and Jackson.

CCA denies that Jackson was told in advance about his doctor’s appointment by a prison nurse or that he had access to a cell phone and was able to advise Logan of the appointment and plan his escape.

When Logan entered the doctor’s office he fired two rounds into the ceiling and ordered everyone present to get on the ground. Chesnut’s suit alleges the sole armed guard then tried to call for help on her cell phone instead of reaching for her gun and her actions allowed Jackson to take the weapon and escape. The suit claims the guard’s gun was later used to shoot Chesnut.

CCA, in its response, allows that Logan and Jackson took the guard’s gun and phone but denies that she grabbed her cell phone, rather than her weapon when Logan entered.

Also, the company claims that what happened to Chesnut is part of the risk he runs as a policeman.