Details on Vaughn Rescue Operation Disputed - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Details on Vaughn Rescue Operation Disputed

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DOVER, Del. -- A federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday naming a number of current and former state officials has raised questions about the timing of when officers stormed a building during a hostage situation at the Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna, in which an officer was killed.

The lawsuit claimed Gov. John Carney, who took office in January and was not named as a defendant, violated prison policy by intervening in the emergency response to the Feb. 1 inmate uprising at the "C" Building in Vaughn.
    
The Department of Correction policy manual states the warden is the "ultimate commander" in the event of a major emergency and is in charge until the situation is resolved.
    
The complaint said Warden David Pierce had approved sending a prison emergency response team to attempt to rescue the hostages within an hour of the start of the uprising, but "the governor instead intervened, "overruled the warden and halted the rescue attempt, for presently unknown reasons."
    
The complaint says the Pierce, who has since been reassigned, was "enraged" by the governor's intervention.

Law enforcement used a backhoe to storm the prison the next day and officers rescued a counselor who was among the four correctional workers being held hostage. Correctional officer Steven Floyd, one of three COs held hostage, was found deceased, according to officials.

Jonathan Starkey, a Carney spokesman, denied the accusations about the governor intervening in the emergency response.

"The hostage negotiations were conducted by trained professionals from the Department of Correction and Delaware State Police. The Governor trusted his law enforcement team on the ground to make decisions on how best to respond throughout the incident," he said.

Tom Antoniou with the United States Urban Tactical Institute, which helps train members of law enforcement and people on firearm use, said a number of factors, including the safety of the officers storming the prison building, would have likely been considered by those coordinating the rescue effort.

"You don't know where everybody's at. You don't what they've done," he said. "They also didn't know what type of weapons they used or had in the prison."

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