BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Guards overthrown by their prisoners in February are now taking two former Delaware governors — Jack Markell and Ruth Ann Minner — to court.
A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday morning claims the state’s top office is to blame for the deadly prison takeover at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna.
The defendants say the former governors knew that Delaware prisons were dangerously understaffed before an 18-hour uprising nearly 11 weeks ago ended in the death of a corrections officer.
Several guards were taken hostage during the siege, and they are joined in the filing by the wife of their colleague who was killed, 46-year-old Sgt. Steven Floyd.
Prisoners filled metal lockers with water to create a barricade, which led rescuers to tear down a wall using a backhoe to rescue the hostages. But they didn’t come in time to save the 16-year veteran.
The corrections officers say they’d asked the state for help prior to the siege, and received none.
The lawsuit also names current and former commissioners for the Delaware Department of Corrections.
The day after the Feb. 1 takeover, president of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware Geoff Klopp said at a press conference that Floyd didn’t have to die.
“We’ve been asking for help from the previous governor and we got none,” he said. “I can’t say it was inevitable, but I can say it was preventable.”
Jack Markell was the governor of Delaware from 2009 until mid-January. Ruth Ann Minner served in the office prior to him, from 2001 to 2009.
The current governor, Governor John Carney, was sworn in Jan. 17.
This story will be updated as more details become available.