WAILUKU — A Maui jail guard is still recuperating from head and facial injuries three months after being kicked and punched by an inmate.
A 22-year-old inmate allegedly kicked and punched the guard, Bert Sam Fong, 10 to 15 times at the Maui Community Correctional Center in Wailuku on Oct. 27, The Maui News reported.
The assault occurred when Sam Fong called the inmate into a secure entryway to tell him about the jail’s policy regarding pencils and how they needed to be returned. The inmate disagreed, rejected Sam Fong’s explanation and became agitated, according to state Department of Public Safety reports on the incident.
Most of the blows to the 74-year-old guard were from moderate and indirect kicks.
“I kept verbally telling inmate that I was not and had no intention of fighting,” Sam Fong said according to the department’s reports. “Which at no time did I retaliate or touch inmate except to block and move.” Sam Fong declined to comment.
Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz acknowledged the attack but declined to identify the guard, the guard’s injuries or leave status because the department may not release personal confidential information. She said a criminal charge was pending.
Schwartz said the department’s practices to prevent assaults on guards at the facility “are sound.”
“We are confident that our practices are sound… . based on proven practice, in effect to do everything we can to prevent assaults from occurring,” she said in an email last week. “Our policies are routinely evaluated, and training is ongoing with all our staff on crisis intervention, conflict resolution and de-escalation tactics, officer safety and assault prevention.”
An official with the United Public Workers Union, which represents the adult corrections officers, could not be reached for comment.
This attack comes in the wake of overcrowding and safety violation allegations at the jail, which opened as a state facility in 1976. The department was fined twice last year by the state labor department’s Occupational Safety and Health Division.