Lack of Charges in Vaughn Hostage Situation Concerns COs, Carney - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Lack of Charges in Vaughn Hostage Situation Concerns COs, Carney

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DOVER, Del. -- No criminal charges have been announced six months after the February hostage situation and death of a correctional officers at the Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna, officials said on Tuesday.

The absence of charges in the death of correctional officer Steven Floyd, who was found dead after law enforcement on Feb. 2 stormed a prison building seized by inmates the day prior, is particularly concerning, said Geoff Klopp, president of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware.

Acknowledging the ongoing investigation and work by Delaware State Police and the Delaware Attorney General's office in the case, Klopp said members are asking him about the case with a higher frequency.

"You have enough people, you have enough evidence, you have enough eyewitnesses that we feel something needs to be done soon," he said.

Officials said Floyd was among three correctional officers a prison counselor who were being held captive in the C Building at Vaughn. Two of the correctional officers were released, though officials said Floyd was discovered dead when they breached the building on Feb. 1.

A criminal probe by state law enforcement and separate probe by the Delaware Department of Correction have been ongoing, though no charges have been filed in Floyd's death, according to Carl Kanefsky, a spokesman for Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn.

"No charges have been filed as the investigation is still underway," he said.

Gov. John Carney (D) said on Tuesday he understands the difficult task authorities have in bringing suspects to justice in the case but admitted the lack of charges is concerning.

"I understand it's difficult when you're interviewing inmates who are locked up behind bars and---quite frankly---aren't the best witnesses and have changed their stories and has made it difficult to get a straight story, but I look forward to seeing those indictments soon."

Wilmington Attorney Tom Neuberger, who is part of a team of lawyers representing the family of Steven Floyd in a lawsuit over the hostage situation, declined to comment on the lack of charges but also said the family still has not been told the exact circumstances of Floyd's death.

Shortly after the hostage situation, Carney called for an independent review of the incident that highlighted staffing levels, training, and other issues in an initial report released in June. A final report is expected in August.

Carney also called for millions in spending to boost correctional officer pay and provide them with new training and equipment. Funding was also allocated for the installation of cameras at Vaughn, devices the authors of the independent review said may have acted as a deterrent or helped with evidence gathering, had they been installed in Building C.

Additionally, a special assistant was appointed to assist with reforms at Vaughn and in Delaware's prisons and a new warden was hired at Vaughn, among a flurry of changes in the months following the hostage situation.

"I gathered the team together and told them we have a lot of work to do and I was committed to seeing this all the way through," Carney said.

Klopp said he is optimistic for changes under new Vaughn Warden Dana Metzger but acknowledged he and many COAD members remain skeptical.

"We are hopeful," he said. "But hope is not a strategy."

 

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