by Amelia Holliday — Staff Reporter
HAZARD — As a state police investigation continues into the death of a Perry County inmate, a report filed with the Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC) has given insight into what may have happened at the jail in the hours before the death.
Larry Trent, 54, of Upper Second Creek, was involved in an altercation with staff at the jail on July 9 at around 7:30 a.m., according to the extraordinary occurrence report (EOR) filed with the DOC three days after the incident by jail administrator Tim Kilburn. Trent was found unresponsive three to four hours later in his cell and pronounced dead at Hazard ARH at 12:20 p.m. that day.
Kilburn recorded the type of extraordinary occurrence in the report as aggravated assault on staff and the homicide of an inmate. Kilburn did not return calls seeking comment this week, but declined comment for the Herald's initial story on this case on the advice of the jail's attorney and insurance company.
The report, which the Herald obtained through an open records request with the DOC, lists the names of the staff involved in the occurrence as Damon Hickman and William Howell, both of whom are listed as having been placed on administrative leave. The names of witnesses to the occurrence are listed as “several.”
In a short narrative included in the EOR, Howell described the details of the incident, citing the cause of the altercation as Trent having “items he was not allowed” in his cell, and when deputies tried to take those items from Trent, he allegedly initiated the altercation.
“Myself and Deputy Hickman opened the door to get the items. He (Trent) came out fighting. I tased him. He didn't stop,” Howell wrote.
Howell wrote that Trent ran to the booking desk, at which point at least two other deputy jailers came to assist Hickman and Howell.
“We got him (Trent) to detox. He then took the Taser from my hand; we kept it under him till (sic) we could get it back and got him under control (and he) was placed in the cell,” Howell wrote.
One deputy jailer was apparently reprimanded after the alteration, according to the report. James C. Combs was sent home by Howell, his supervisor, and told to call the jail administrator because he allegedly would not help other deputies restrain Trent.
According to an employee warning report filed on the day of the incident, Combs is listed as being careless, violating the rules, and having unsatisfactory behavior. Howell wrote on the report that Combs “would not help in a fight (and) stood and watched, then walked off.”
Combs did not sign the report before it was filed.
An observational log was included in the EOR for the hours between the altercation and Trent being found unresponsive. Hickman wrote that he checked on Trent every 20-30 minutes beginning at 7:40 a.m., and initialed each entry. He reported the “inmate seemed 10-4 at this time” until 9:38 a.m., at which time he recorded Trent was moving around the cell. A log for 10:36 a.m. gives no observation but is still initialed.
A preliminary report from the state medical examiner's office on July 10 notes Trent had sustained injuries as the result of a “jail beating” which included “blunt impacts of head, trunk, and extremities with multiple skeletal and visceral injuries.” Officials with the Perry County Coroner's Office said an official cause of death has yet to be determined and it could be several months before the medical examiner's office is able to conclude.
Trent was being held for a DUI charge from July 5 and a bench warrant for charges from 2012. At his arraignment on July 8, the judge had set a $1,000 surety bond for Trent.