Officials at Mobile County Metro Jail have confirmed inmate reports of a loaded gun being snuck past security and into the docket and processing area of the facility earlier this month.
According to Metro Jail Warden Trey Oliver, 20-year-old Keshawn Dromoski Carlton was able to sneak in a small handgun loaded with four rounds of ammunition as he was being processed into the jail on charges for possession of marijuana and disorderly conduct July 3.
The weapon was never discharged and no inmates or officers were harmed. However, Oliver said the security breach was a “big concern” and a mistake that “could have gotten someone killed.”
“This was human error, and disciplinary actions have been taken against one of our officers for not detecting that sooner,” Oliver said. “We went back and reviewed the video and you could see the indication that there was something under this individual’s clothing. Obviously, that’s something that should have been caught both by our staff and by the initial arresting officer.”
Oliver said his staff has the primary responsibility of keeping weapons and contraband out of the jail, but ideally, he said, Carlton should have been searched more thoroughly during his arrest, which records indicate was made by an officer from the Mobile Police Department.
Reached by Lagniappe, an MPD spokesperson confirmed that information and said there was an ongoing investigation into how the gun wasn’t discovered in Carlton’s initial pat-down.
While the gun did find its way into the jail, it did not actually make it back into the housing and general population areas where inmates spend most of their time. After a health screening, prisoners are strip-searched, deloused and showered before being processed to their cellblocks.
Before that could occur, Oliver said security cameras showed Carlton hiding the gun he’d gotten through security behind one of the toilets in the docket and processing area. An inmate trustee cleaning the docket area later found the weapon and alerted nearby corrections officers.
Now Carlton is facing an additional, first-degree charge of promoting prison contraband, which is a felony offense. His only serious prior charge in the local court system originated from an arrest earlier this year when he was taken into custody for “carrying a pistol without a permit.”
The incident occurred Wednesday, July 3, which Oliver described as “a busy time.” Still, he said some of Metro’s staff would be reviewing training procedures to address what went wrong.
“Any type of holiday where there’s going to be socializing and alcohol consumption, there seems to be an uptick in arrests, and it was busy at the time. However, we can’t accept that as an excuse,” he said. “We try to get it right 100 percent of the time, but when you’re processing up to 20,000 people a year, unfortunately, human errors occur and you’re going to miss something.”
Normally that “something” isn’t a loaded gun, though there have been previous issues at Metro because of things missed as inmates were being processed. Last year, 41-year-old Joshua Brown was able to sneak a knife into his cellblock, where he stabbed another inmate multiple times.
Neither was fatally injured, but after the incident, Oliver also pointed to congestion problems in the intake area of the jail — an area the Mobile County Commission already has plans to expand as part of a multimillion-dollar suite of upgrades to Metro scheduled over the next few years.
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