Editorial: Jail mistake set stage for revenge stabbing - Albuquerque Journal

Editorial: Jail mistake set stage for revenge stabbing

The day after accused killer Christopher Byers was transferred to a new pod at the Metropolitan Detention Center, the 21-year-old was brutally attacked by the half brother of Byers’ alleged victim.

Authorities say convicted killer Izaiah Garcia quickly planned the revenge attack the morning of April 21, crafting a makeshift shank from the broken top of a mop or broom handle. A review of video reportedly shows the 21-year-old Garcia, a bay orderly with access to cleaning supplies, walking toward Byers with his hand in his uniform before he drew the 6- to 8-inch long sharpened plastic shank and began stabbing Byers in the neck from behind.

A Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputy wrote in a report Byers appeared to have no time to react to the attack: “Garcia appears to stab, or attempt to stab, Byers more than 20 times and told him ‘this is for my brother.’ ”

The inmate in the cell next to Garcia’s had beckoned Byers upstairs right before Garcia stabbed him.

Byers, who is charged in the Jan. 23 killing of 16-year-old Thomas Nunn (Garcia’s half brother), amazingly suffered superficial injuries. He was treated at University of New Mexico Hospital and returned to MDC the same day.

Garcia has been convicted of killing a Sandia High School student at a homecoming party and is accused of shooting a young woman playing Pokémon Go, in addition to his new charges in connection with the attack on Byers.

Byers and Garcia clearly should not have been placed in the same pod, the Echo unit, the same unit where another inmate is accused of beating his cellmate to death last fall. A Bernalillo County spokesman says Garcia and Byers have been moved to alternative housing areas to ensure they’re not housed in the same area again.

The stabbing incident has been referred to MDC’s office of Professional Standards Unit for investigation. We understand the jail faces chronic staffing shortages, but the stabbing shows an appalling breakdown in the jail’s Offender Management System. Bernalillo County leaders must take note and ensure standard operating procedures include not housing suspected assailants in the same areas with relatives of their purported victims. We already have too many killings on the streets. We don’t need more in our jails.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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