Phil Sims

Sheriff Phil Sims

An incident in the county jail Tuesday sent 4 inmates to the Marshall County ER with what were believed to be overdoses of contraband narcotics. Sheriff Phil Sims gave this account and he had strong words for those he says fanned the flames of rumors that were not true:

On June 14, 2022, at approximately 1:30 p.m., correction officers responded to two inmates experiencing a medical emergency. Upon arrival, one of the inmates was unresponsive. Correction officers began CPR and administered Narcan to the inmate and he became responsive. Emergency medical crews arrived and both inmates were taken to the ER at Marshall Medical North. Both inmates were treated and released back to the county jail.

At approximately 6:00 p.m., a search of the jail block, commonly known as a shakedown, was conducted by deputies and correction officers. The Sheriff’s K-9, along with Albertville Police K-9 officer, assisted in the search of the block. During the search, one more inmate started experiencing a medical emergency just as correction officers began searching his cell. The inmate received immediate medical help from nurses and correction officers. Out of precaution, an inmate who was with him in the cell was taken to the ER for observation. Both inmates were transported to the ER at Marshall Medical North, treated, and released back to the county jail. Nothing was found during the search. This case is still under investigation and charges may be forthcoming on individuals.

We believe the inmates' medical emergency was from the ingestion of drugs. All inmates were responsive when they left the jail to be transported to the ER. At no time did we have a death in the jail.

During an investigation of these events, it was determined that an inmate, who was booked in the jail Monday night from another agency, had drugs hidden on him that were not discovered during the booking process. Also, the substance used appeared to be cocaine laced with fentanyl.

I want to address a few things on this incident. First, there were false statements made on Facebook that we had 5 deaths due to overdoses in the jail. I don’t understand why someone would want to make a false statement that caused a lot of people to panic. This was simply not true and you should be ashamed for doing so. In fact, we are pursuing possible charges against the individual responsible for the post both criminally and civilly. This is wrong and should not have happened.

Second, our first priority is to the care of the inmates and to find out why and how this happened. It is not to run to social media or contact the press before our investigation is complete. The investigation tells how and why something happened which is factual information. I do not and will NOT respond to Facebook posts demanding answers now. When I have the facts from the investigation, I will issue a press release, such as this, detailing what those facts are. I will NOT respond to posts that are obviously politically motivated.

All these events happened during the funeral service for Chief Matt Cooper and to suggest on Facebook to get political points that the funeral of Chief Matt Cooper somehow interfered with correction officers doing their job or contributed to this incident are uncalled for and show poor taste. Fact is, we had extra people working in the jail that day.

Third, our correction officers do an outstanding job day to day guarding inmates. We have taken every precaution to keep things from getting in the jail. From buying a body scanner to re-enforcing the jail windows along with physical searches, sometimes something as small as 1/4 gram of dope can be missed. This individual was brought to us by another agency, which had searched him while in their jail and then he was searched by us. It was small enough that it was missed both times.

In closing, my office in no shape or form gave out any false information about this incident. It is my policy to not release information until we have enough facts to make a statement. We will not post inaccurate information just for the sake of posting something. Nor were we being deceptive. I have always been accessible to the media and have always been transparent about the sheriff’s office, good or bad, and will always do so.

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