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Video shows inmates intervene after guard was choked with a pillowcase

Video shows the moment an inmate tried to choke Deputy Lillian Jimenez with a pillowcase at the Hillsborough County detention center in Florida on June 7. (Video: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office)
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In the dead of night, over a dozen female inmates at a Florida jail leaped from their beds and sprinted toward the bathroom.

Inside, Deputy Lillian Jimenez was being choked from behind with a pillowcase by another inmate in what officials said was a plot to escape the detention center. But “a dire situation turned into the safe rescue of Deputy Jimenez,” according to Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, when a group of women quickly jumped into action to help the guard.

“While these inmates put our deputy in danger, there were others who did the right thing by coming to her aid, and for that, I am grateful,” Chronister said in a statement.

Now, the two inmates accused of orchestrating the June 7 attack, 42-year-old Bridgette Harvey and 37-year-old April Colvin, are facing charges related to escape. Harvey, the one accused of attempting to choke Jimenez, is facing additional counts of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and introduction of contraband into a detention facility — a charge stemming from a shank investigators said she fashioned out of a chewed comb. She is being held on bonds totaling $72,000, online records show.

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Hillsborough County Public Defender Julianne M. Holt, who is representing the two women, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post. Records show Harvey has been behind bars since May 31 on drug and home invasion charges. Colvin has been detained since May 24 on charges of theft, resisting an officer without violence and drug possession.

According to an arrest report, an inmate told investigators that the two women talked about their plans the day before. Colvin was supposed to enter the bathroom shortly before 1 a.m. and pretend to be in pain. Harvey would then warn the guard to check on Colvin — afterward, launching a sneak attack to restrain the deputy and take her keys.

So in the early hours of June 7, as Jimenez stood by the restroom’s doorway, Harvey came up behind her — quickly wrapping a twisted pillowcase around the guard’s neck, according to the arrest report. Harvey was also carrying a sharpened comb in her hand, the report alleges, but it fell to the ground as she and the deputy struggled.

Another woman walking across the hall noticed the situation and dashed into the bathroom, surveillance video shows. Soon, over a dozen more followed her inside. According to the affidavit, they took the pillowcase from Jimenez’s neck and pulled Harvey away from her until other officials arrived.

The morning ended with Harvey and Colvin — along with two unnamed inmates authorities have accused of taking part in the attack — being placed in solitary confinement, according to the sheriff’s office. Jimenez was treated for minor injuries to her neck and throat at a Tampa hospital.

The inmates who sprang into action have received an outpouring of accolades after the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office posted a video of the incident.

“Bravo to the inmates that jumped to help!” a woman commented on Facebook. “May your courage and bravery be noticed.”

One of the inmates who intervened was Mary Jean, who also rescued another deputy during an attack five months ago, Fox13 reported. Though left with a broken hand after the recent incident, Jean was recognized with a pizza party and Coca-Cola, her attorney, Denitsa Kolev, told the outlet.

“She had no reason to do this, to jump in and save a deputy while she’s an inmate,” Kolev told Fox13. “It shows she really is a good person.”