The jail officer whose actions led to a rebellion by inmates at the Rappahannock Regional Jail has been cleared of any wrongdoing and will not be disciplined, jail officials said.
"He's fine, and he's back on the job," said Capt. Rick Martin, director of community corrections at the jail.
Despite the fact that the officer, Billy Vavrick, has worked at the jail for only three weeks, officials said they do not think inexperience, lack of training or naivete played a role in the incident. Officials described Vavrick, 53, as a good officer and pointed to his long career with the D.C. police force as evidence of his experience.
"Our initial internal investigation showed no deviation from any procedures," Martin said. "It doesn't seem like anything inappropriate was done.
The disturbance began at the Stafford County annex of the jail when Vavrick entered a cell while making his usual rounds early Monday morning. A group of prisoners asked his help with an overflowing toilet. When Vavrick stepped into the cell, the inmates punched him, stole his keys and then locked him in a nearby closet.
"We go on faith here," Martin said, "and he opened the jail cell to assist them with the flooding, and it happened."
After overcoming Vavrick, the inmates unlocked several cells along their block. Officials said very few prisoners seized the opportunity to leave their cells. Meanwhile, Vavrick radioed for help, and the Stafford County Sheriff's Department and a hostage negotiator soon arrived on the scene.
Vavrick was released from the closet soon thereafter by the inmates. It took officials more than three hours to quell the disturbance. Investigators are still trying to determine what took place in the interim.
The inmates did minimal damage--they broke a window and tore off the head of a shower stall--and officials do not think they were trying to escape.
Jail officials have turned the investigation of the inmates over to the Sheriff's Department and expect charges to be brought soon.
Five inmates are thought to be behind the incident. Officials said four of them await trial on felony charges and the fifth is a convicted felon.
Detective Billy Bowler of the Sheriff's Department , who is heading the investigation, said it is too soon to charge anyone.
"I don't have a handle on it yet," Bowler said, adding that the investigation is "in the preliminary stages."
"Right now the whole upstairs of the jail, which is several blocks of cells, is under investigation," Bowler said.