Ithaca, N.Y. — An inmate in the Tompkins County Jail assaulted corrections officers — sending three to the hospital — after he refused to stop sleeping with a blanket over his head, according to court records.

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Roshane Henry, 24, has been charged with three counts of second-degree assault, a felony, for a March 15 attack on corrections officers. As reported last week, Henry had been first arrested on heroin/drug charges in February.

Law enforcement records obtained Monday by The Voice provide the first detailed account of the attack within the Tompkins County Jail and the extent of the injuries suffered by the corrections officers.

Here’s what the records show:

1 — How the argument began

At around 12:30 a.m., a 64-year-old corrections officer checking in on different inmates arrived at “Dorm D.” There, the corrections officer saw that Henry was sleeping with his “head covered with a blanket.”

“I told him that he couldn’t have his head covered and he refused to remove the blanket,” the corrections officer later told Inv. Kevin Cowen of the sheriff’s office. “I attempted to tell him that he could tie a sock or something around his eyes but that he couldn’t completely cover his head.”

That didn’t persuade Henry, according to the court records.

“Henry stated that he would do what he wanted to do,” the corrections officer later told the investigator. “I told Henry I would remove the blanket if he didn’t comply.”

“Henry then threatened me and once again refused to uncover his head.”

2 — The jailhouse fight

A second corrections officer with the rank of sergeant arrived. She followed the first officer’s lead and ordered Henry to uncover his head. Henry again didn’t comply, records say.

Then a third corrections officer arrived. “Henry threatened to punch him,” the first corrections officer said.

The third officer then tried forcibly removing the blanket, “and inmate Henry started to kick at us,” the first corrections officer recalled.

This is when the fighting began. At least four corrections officers were in the cell by this point.

“I tried to grab his legs to pull him off the bunk and (Henry) continued to swing and kick. I did pull him off of the bunk and several officers … moved in to try to get Henry under control,” one corrections officer told the sheriff’s investigator.

“Henry kept slipping from our grip and proceeded out into the dorm hallway.”

Things turned from bad to worse. It becomes difficult to follow the narrative in the court records at this point. What’s clear is that there was a chaotic scene inside the jail as several officers tried restraining Henry.

“I lost my footing and fell to the floor. I attempted to grab at Henry’s legs at which time I was either kneed or kicked in the left side of the face. I had my head down so I didn’t see which it was,” one corrections officer said.

“Henry then punched me in the back of the head. The fight continued back into the Dormitory D. Henry then resumed a fighting stance. We were facing each other head to toe.”

The corrections officer tried stepping on Henry’s foot to distract him. That’s when the sergeant deployed pepper spray against Henry, according to records.

The pepper-spray mostly got the two officers, but Henry was also hit. Another officer arrived at this time and together with the officers originally on scene brought Henry down.

Henry was then handcuffed and moved to a holding cell, records show.

3 — Extent of correction officers’ injuries

A statement released last week only said that the corrections officers had all been taken to Cayuga Medical Center.

The new court records show the following about how the officers were hurt in the attack:

— One officer suffered bruising to the left side of his face and left eye. His right thumb popped out of joint and he suffered bruising on his right forearm and both knees. He was seen by the Emergency Room at CMC and was out of work for a week.

— Another corrections officer suffered a concussion, bruising on his left wrist and swelling the left side of his forehead.

— The third injured corrections officer suffered bruising and swelling in the head and face after being kicked and punched by Henry, according to court records. This officer had her glasses broken in the attack.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.