Internal Investigation Launched after Inmate Beats Deputy
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office launched an internal investigation into how an inmate was able to beat a jail deputy and leave him unconscious last week.
On July 13, Deputy Thomas Trimberger was attacked in a cell block by inmate Oscar Cortez, who asked to go to the shower. A jail video shows a nude Cortez rinsing off in the shower after the assault, then walking back to Trimberger and punching him again.
Trimberger laid on the floor for six minutes before six deputies came to his aid, according to the video.
Deputies are supposed to work in pairs in the jail, but Trimberger was alone.
“He could’ve been killed him, let’s just face it,” Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder said Thursday.
The sheriff’s office is looking into how to prevent this sort of thing.
“We believe that he was unconscious, if not immediately, at least from when his head hit the table,” Helder said of Trimberger. “And then, you saw the rest where the guy just hit him eight times while he was unconscious.”
Trimberger is a retired, part-time deputy in his 60’s, and has years of experience as a correctional officer. Helder called him the “nicest person you’ll ever meet.”
However, last Friday Trimberger was up against an inmate who has a history of assaulting officers. This is the third time Cortez has battered an officer while in the Washington County jail, the sheriff said.
“This guy goes out of his way to attack. One of the guys he attacked was 6’5″ about 300 pounds, I mean slugged him and knocked him into a wall, and of course, there were a couple of people there [to assist], ” Helder said.
In the jail surveillance video, Cortez is seen reaching into the deputy’s pockets. None of the correctional officers carry weapons and the sheriff says for good reason; this situation could’ve turned deadly.
“But I promise you, with this guy having two officers in there, [it] would not have necessarily prevented an attack…,” said Helder.
Trimberger suffered a broken nose, whiplash, possible back injuries and a concussion. He has 12 stitches in his lower lip, a police report states. He was home recovering Thursday and is expected to be back at work next week, according to the sheriff.
Cortez, 25, of Springdale faces charges of felony battery on an officer and interfering with emergency communications. He disabled Trimberger’s hand-held radio during the attack.
Cortez remains in the jail on $150,000 bond. He was initial charge was residential burglary.