Prisoner shot by deputy sheriff had freed himself from restraints while in hospital bathroom
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The pretrial detainee who fought with two sheriff’s deputies Wednesday in the emergency room of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, in an incident that left both the detainee and one deputy with gunshot wounds, was able to free himself from restraints while he was in the bathroom, according to a Boston police report.
Raymond Wallace, 36, then tried to flee the hospital. When he was stopped by the deputies, he launched a “violent assault” on them, according to the report.
Wallace remained hospitalized today. He is not healthy enough to be arraigned on charges stemming from the incident, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel C. Conley’s office said today.
Wallace is facing charges in Boston Municipal Court of unlawful possession of a firearm, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a public employee, and escape, the Suffolk district attorney’s office announced. He will be arraigned once his health improves.
Wallace was being held at the Middlesex County Jail on armed robbery charges when he was brought to the downtown Boston medical facility just before noon Wednesday by two armed Middlesex County deputy sheriffs.
During Wallace’s asault on the deputies, Wallace was “able to gain control” of one deputy sheriff’s gun and “discharge a shot at the Deputy striking him in the upper leg area,” the report said.
The second deputy fired his gun, striking Wallace several times, the report said.
The report also said that a Mass. Eye and Ear security guard who responded to the commotion saw Wallace wounded and holding a firearm in his right hand. The security guard assisted in removing the firearm and handcuffing Wallace, the report said.
Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian identified the injured man as Jonathan Persson. The second deputy, who shot Wallace, was identified as Sean Lee by the deputy’s union head.
“If it weren’t for the heroic actions of Officer Lee, we would be burying Officer Persson today,” said Jerry Flynn, executive director of the New England Police Benevolent Association. “Officer Lee acted heroically and saved a lot of people’s lives.”
Flynn said the NEPBA filed a grievance when Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian took office in 2011 to make it standard practice to have two armed correction officers escort inmates to non-prison facilities.
“We filed the grievance based on the fact that it was past practice to always have two people going with an inmate,” he said.
But Sean McAdam, superintendant of the Middlesex House of Correction in Billerica, said the department has always transported prisoners to single-day hospital visits under the guard of two armed corrections officers. Wallace was on a single-day visit.
McAdam said previously only one officer was sent for an overnight stay, but after the discussion with the union, Sheriff Koutoujian had ordered two officers to be assigned for overnight visits.
Flynn said having two armed officers escort an inmate is a matter of safety for both the officers and the public.
“This is a dangerous job. We are not dealing with people who are choirboys in the community,” Flynn said. “If there was only one officer with him and he got a hold of the gun, he would have been armed and then who knows what he could have done.”
No one else was hurt during the burst of gunfire. The emergency room was closed for six hours while law enforcement collected evidence and investigated the incident, officials said.
“This incident further highlights just how unpredictable and dangerous this profession can be,” Koutoujian said at a press conference today. “As frightening as this situation was, it could have been much worse, if not for the efforts of these two highly-trained and respected officers.”
Koutoujian said the prisoners are normally handcuffed, with the cuffs attached to a waist chain, and their legs are shackled. He would not comment on what restraints Wallace was wearing when he went into the bathroom.
Wallace has been shot by police before. In 2001, he was shot multiple times by police when they tried to arrest him for trying to break into the Pizzi Farm Stand in Waltham. At the time, Wallace was masked, had two loaded firearms, and tried to take an officer’s gun away when they moved to arrest him, the Globe reported.
His current attorney, Raymond D. Buso, today said the Waltham confrontation nearly cost Wallace his life.
“He was on life support and he was expected to die on that case,’’ Buso said today.
Wallace recovered and eventually pleaded guilty to robbery and unlawful possession of firearms charges in Middlesex Superior Court. He faced a new cluster of similar charges in Essex Superior Court in Salem for armed robberies in Peabody in 2010 and in Salem in 2011.
Buso said Wallace was mulling whether to accept a plea deal negotiated with Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office.
“There has been an offer made to him and he hasn’t accepted it,” Buso said. “It is pending at this point, a possible plea.”
Although being prosecuted in Essex County, Wallace was being housed at the Middlesex jail because of “enemy issues” with other pretrial detainees in Middlesex.
A Massachusetts Eye and Ear spokeswoman said the emergency room which reopened at 6 p.m. Wednesday, is operating on a normal basis today.Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Colin A. Young can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ColinAYoung.