Inmates cause ‘disturbance’ at Bell Detention Center

Published 10:45 am Thursday, May 2, 2019

Four inmates at the Bell County Detention Center allegedly played a big part in causing a “disturbance” in the jail on Wednesday.

According to Bell County Jailer Gary Ferguson, Talmadge Posey, 40, of Pineville; Jonathan Widener, 27, of Middlesboro; Bradley Barnett, 29, of Middlesboro; and Jonathan Maples, 24, of Pleasureville each could be receiving charges for the role they played in starting what could be called a riot.

Ferguson said the incident started as a minor disturbance but escalated after multiple attempts by correctional officer to defuse the situation.

Email newsletter signup

“It got to the point (the inmates) were being really violent,” said the jailer. “They were flooding cells, stuffing things down in the toilet and stopping the shower up, trying to flood cells. (It) caused some problems here at the jail because it set the fire alarms off.”

According to Ferguson, at one point the inmates ripped a television off the wall, took it apart and started yielding parts as weapons. They even attempted to break glass but were unsuccessful.

Once it reached the point of the inmates threatening jail officers, the next procedural step was to call in outside help. Kentucky State Police, Vehicle Enforcement, the Pineville Police and the Bell County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. Shortly after their arrival, the situation was defused, according to Ferguson.

As to what caused the disturbance initially, the jailer said he believed it was a mix of disgruntled inmates and restricted TV privileges. Prior to the disturbance, TV privileges were taken away because of “them doing things they shouldn’t be doing.”

“You kind of do things to discipline them. That had been going on for about a week or so, and I was still standing that they weren’t getting their privileges back right now,” said the jailer. “When they get bad news, they don’t handle it very well. Then what egged it on is when they do things to incite other inmates.”

The four individuals believed to be major influencers of the situation were facing or already acquired felony charges, according to Ferguson.

“These were all people who were no strangers to the game,” said Ferguson. “They were all seasoned in what they do, and that was their way of, I guess, going against the establishment.”

There were about 12 inmates in the cell when the incident occurred. Only one person sought medical attention. Charges that are likely from the disturbance, according to Ferguson, include: terroristic threatening, first-degree criminal mischief and inciting a riot. After the video is reviewed, there could be more individuals charged and additional charges.