CONNELL - An inmate injured at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell remains on a respirator nearly a month later, according to his family.
Video from the prison shows Anthony Turner, 42, and Andre S. Cook, 27, talking, reportedly about a football game. Then Turner threw a single punch and Cook fell to the ground, said Maria Peterson, spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Corrections.
The Connell Police Department is investigating. In the meantime, Turner remains in segregation 23 hours a day, Peterson said.
Cook is in the intensive care unit at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, where he was placed in an induced coma by doctors because of severe head injuries, said his family.
After the assault he was found unconscious by prison officials. At the hospital he opens his eyes but does not appear to focus on or recognize people, said his sister Courtney Cook.
Doctors have not determined whether he will suffer any permanent brain damage, she said. But she believes he slowly is getting better.
The Department of Corrections classifies Andre Cook as being on medical furlough, Peterson said. But it is interested in putting him on extraordinary medical placement, which is the state's version of compassionate release, said Barb Curtis, the Department of Corrections utilization and nursing services administrator.
The Cook family is concerned that would leave Andre Cook without medical coverage for his injuries, but Curtis said the change will not be made unless medical care is available. For inmates without resources, that means partnering with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.
The Cook family already is making medical decisions, but would have more freedom, Curtis said. The Department of Corrections would continue to act as a resource, providing support, for instance, if he is transferred to another medical facility, she said.
Under extraordinary medical placements, inmates can be recalled to prison if they recover before the time they were due to be released, she said.
Arrangements are being made to transfer Andre Cook to a long-term care home in Seattle, where he will be closer to family members, his sister said. But that cannot happen until there are assurances that he has medical coverage, she said.
Andre Cook's release date now is in January, after serving time since May for violating a protection order and a burglary in Thurston County, Peterson said. He was in a medium-custody unit at the time of the fight.
Turner has had previous infractions for fighting, disruptive behavior, strong-arming and intimidating, according to Coyote Ridge officials. He has been in prison since November 2009 for a King County residential burglary and is due to be released in December 2013, said the state. He also was in prison from 1991 to 2001.
Although Connell police are investigating the incident, the Department of Corrections also has held a hearing. Turner lost 270 days of good time credit, the maximum penalty the department can assess, Peterson said. He also lost two years of weight-lifting privileges, she said.