Mecklenburg jail officer fired after fight with inmate, Sheriff’s Office says

A Mecklenburg County Jail officer’s termination Friday afternoon stemmed from an altercation he had with an inmate, which led to criminal summons for simple assault for both individuals, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Detention Officer Ellis Chambers and James McIllwaine, 29, are accused of the May 23 incident inside the uptown jail.

Chambers began working with the Sheriff’s Office on June 3, 2020. McIllwaine has been in jail since October charges of breaking and entering, firearm possession by a felon, carrying a concealed weapon, injury to personal property and assault on female, according to the Sheriff’s Office website.

Sheriff Garry McFadden said his office initiated a criminal investigation and found that Chambers’ actions didn’t abide by his training, went against policy and were “criminal in nature.”

It’s the latest incident at the uptown detention center this year, including three deaths:

On June 25, James Holmes, 42, cut a jail officer with “a homemade weapon” and bit them as she made a medication pass, the Sheriff’s Office said. The officer received treatment at a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries and was released.

On June 22, Emerson Healy, 55, was found unresponsive in his cell a day after being being arrested by CATS special police on misdemeanor weapons and proof of payment charges, the Observer previously reported. No cause of death has been released.

The Sheriff’s Office fired Kyle Harris in early June after the 28-year-old jail officer was charged with multiple sex crimes in connection with the alleged sexual assault of a transgender inmate.

John Devin Haley, 41, died of an apparent suicide on May 22, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He had been held at the jail on federal charges since April 3, officials said.

Karon Golightly, a 20-year-old suspect in a string of Charlotte-area robberies, was found unresponsive on May 14. He died at a hospital.

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