Exclusive video shows latest chaos inside St. Louis City’s Justice Center

Exclusive video shows latest chaos inside St. Louis City's Justice Center
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 5:45 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - St. Louis City’s jail saw yet another uprising, but unlike the ones earlier this year, this one remained within the walls of the Justice Center.

Video obtained by News 4 shows the city losing control inside the jail again. The video from inside a cell block shows a maintenance worker appearing to do some work to a cell door around 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

In the video, it’s not clear why detainees start exiting their cells. The corrections officers leave for a time and then return with backup. A fight or disturbance of some kind seems to break out at 1:53 p.m. By about 2:30 p.m., the situation appears to be back under control and officers go back to their post.

An hour later, the detainees start coming out of their cells again. Things escalate when corrections officers come in and a detainee appears to say, “let’s riot, man.”

By about 4 p.m., the officers abandon their stations and the detainees are left alone. They gather around the control panel, seeming to watch videos then they begin moving furniture and talk about blocking up the toilets. Finally someone start to try to block the video and by 4:08 p.m., the camera is mostly obstructed. You could still hear very loud noises and see equipment being tossed around.

The video doesn’t show how it all gets back under control but city officials confirm pepper spray was used. By about 5 p.m., the camera is uncovered by an officer in a gas mask. The entire control station is gone and debris just littering the cell block.

“I do know that CO’s acted quickly to make sure the situation was under control,” Nick Desideri, a spokesperson for the city, said.

He said no one was injured and the city is still working on the locks. “We inherited many problems with this facility,” Desideri said. “We have identified them and we are working to address the lock situation to put detainee health and safety at the top of the priority list.”

In February and April of this year, officials acknowledged faulty locks in the facility, saying they were to blame for uprisings that lead to broken windows and fires.

The Justice Center is now housing all of the city’s detainees, after he mayor’s decision to close the medium security facility in June.

When asked if the city made the move too quickly, Desideri said “looking at the community reports and the inhumane facility at the workhouse, the community called for that facility to be shut down and the mayor acted quickly.”

An email from the corrections commissioner to other staffers Tuesday said inmates in 5C are to be locked down until the conclusion of the investigation.

Some aldermen had claimed detainees wanted time outside, something they had at the Workhouse but not at the Justice Center. The email said inmates may get recreation in restraints one or two at a time, one hour per day.