OKLAHOMA CITY – Two separate investigations are underway regarding violent incidents with inmates from an Oklahoma City halfway house.
One happened inside the home; the other led to an officer-involved shooting after the suspect walked away.
“This type of stuff, especially like what happened last week and certainly last night, it’s not particularly common,” said Matt Elliott with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
The Carver Transitional Center in Oklahoma City is supposed to be a place for change – a place inmates can turn their life around.
“Prison is a terrible place to be,” Elliott said. “It’s a traumatic experience. Most of them don’t ever want to go back. They want to get their lives in order.”
But after two recent incidents – some have taken a step back.
In one incident, a naked and angry inmate was in a fist fight with police. In the other incident, an inmate was shot by officers after walking away from the Carver Center and allegedly becoming violent.
“The suspect continued to charge at the officer with a crowbar-type instrument in his hand,” said Capt. Bo Mathews with the Oklahoma City Police Dept. “The officer retreated and fired his weapon, striking the subject.”
That suspect, identified as 38-year-old Kirk Shields, was nearing the end of a sentence for several charges including burglary and eluding police.
But on Wednesday, things changed.
“Mr. Shields became irate for reasons that are not known and assaulted staff outside of the Carver Center,” Elliott said. “Then he fled the facility.”
Police say before he was shot by officers, Shields had assaulted a man, leaving him in the hospital.
Elliott says inmates’ halfway houses are free to come and go as they please and most aren’t violent, so it’s rare to have incidents like this, especially in such a short time frame.
“By and large most halfway house inmates aren’t trying to cause trouble,” said Elliott. “They just want to get out. They don’t want to be under the state’s thumb anymore. They just want to get on with their lives.”
The DOC does not run the halfway house. It’s operated by CoreCivic, one of two major correctional companies in the United States.
Now, the DOC says 15 inmates are being moved to Lexington’s prison after reviewing their behavior during the brawl. Officials say it’s not acceptable behavior for the halfway house. The inmates are going back to prison.
The suspect who was shot by an officer is expected to survive and the officer is on paid administrative leave.
CoreCivic released the following statement:
“We are cooperating fully with our government partner and local law enforcement as they investigate these incidents. CoreCivic Community is dedicated to delivering proven and innovative practices that help individuals obtain employment, successfully reintegrate into society and keep communities safe.
Note: Carver Transitional Center is a non-secure residential reentry center (halfway house.) Residents are free to come and go during the day for work, counseling and other reentry services, as is standard practice for these types of facilities.”