3 corrections officers injured, one hospitalized after early-morning attacks in Cook County Jail

A man who’s awaiting trial for allegedly shooting a Chicago cop attacked three corrections officers at the Cook County Jail early Tuesday and his cellmate used one of the officers’ keys to let other inmates out of their cells before authorities were able to contain the situation, according to the sheriff’s office.

Dante Jeffries (left) and Sharelle Sims | CCSO

One officer is in serious condition and two others were injured in the attacks around 3:40 a.m., a sheriff’s spokesperson said.

The situation began as a corrections officer distributed breakfast to detainees in the jail’s Division IX maximum security wing.

The officer allowed 30-year-old Dante Jeffries to get a cup of water on a lower tier of the facility, the sheriff’s office said. When Jeffries returned, he allegedly attacked the officer from behind, grabbed him by his neck, and dragged the man into his cell. They fought inside Jeffries’ cell and then spilled onto the catwalk where Jeffries got on top of the officer and choked him until he lost consciousness, the spokesperson said.

Jeffries also used bars of soap in a sock wrapped around his wrist to attack the officer, according to a preliminary investigation.

Jeffries then took the officer’s keys and handed them to his cellmate, Sharelle Sims, who began opening other cell doors on the tier, the sheriff’s office said.

Another corrections worker ran past Jeffries to assist the injured officer while a third officer confronted Jeffries.

Jeffries “violently struck the third officer in the face and knocked him unconscious…Then went to the second officer who was tending to his colleague and violently struck him, knocking him to the ground,” the spokesperson said.

Jeffries, Sims, and a third detainee who had been let out of his cell reportedly returned to their cells when a sergeant arrived with a Taser.

The officer who was attacked while rendering aid is hospitalized for treatment of serious injuries. The other two officers were treated and released.

Jeffries has been in jail since July 2017 on charges of attempted murder, aggravated battery of a police officer, aggravated kidnapping, and 110 other felonies, according to the sheriff’s office. Among other crimes, he is accused of shooting a Chicago police officer who responded to a cell phone store robbery on the city’s South Side.

Sims, 23, has been in custody since August while awaiting trial on charges of armed habitual criminal and possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number. His criminal record includes prior convictions for armed robbery and illegal firearm possession, the sheriff’s office said.

Charges in connection with the jail attacks are pending.

“Today’s incident makes clear the dangers that our brave and committed correctional officers face every day,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “Currently 83% of the detainee jail population is charged with violent offenses.”

“Lack of soap”

A federal judge this month ordered Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to ensure that detainees have access to plenty of soap during the COVID-19 crisis after lawyers sued on behalf of jail inmates. But, it seems some inmates have more than enough soap.

Jeffries allegedly formed a weapon by attaching bars of soap to his hand, which he then used to attack the corrections officers.

In February, accused murderer Christian Gonzalez used a sock filled with soap to beat his cellmate to death just hours after the victim arrived in the jail, according to prosecutors.

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