- Associated Press - Thursday, March 27, 2014

THIBODAUX, La. (AP) - A Lafourche Parish sheriff’s deputy was severely injured at the parish jail during one of two incidents involving the same inmate over the weekend.

The inmate, 18-year-old Jerry Cleveland Jr., of Raceland, was being escorted to another cell when he allegedly struck another inmate in the head resulting in the victim hitting the cell bars. The impact knocked him unconscious, the sheriff’s office said Wednesday.

When the deputies intervened, a struggle ensued and the deputies and Cleveland fell to the ground. The sheriff’s office says Deputy Steven Pitts hit his head on a toilet inside the cell.

Pitts and the initial victim were treated and released from an area hospital. Pitts suffered a severe laceration, requiring several stitches and staples. Details of the inmate’s injuries were not released.

Sheriff Craig Webre said the attacks are a “direct result of deficiencies in our jail facility.”

“The jail’s antiquated ‘block’ design does not allow constant oversight and we continue to have serious plumbing issues throughout the facility. Whether it’s a veteran officer or someone fresh out of the training academy, our correctional officers face these types of problems every day, and it’s always unfortunate when incidents escalate to this level,” Webre said. “These are clear examples of why it’s imperative that we provide the safer jail that is needed for Lafourche Parish.”

Pitts said a lack of sufficient lighting in the cells made the situation even more dangerous.

Pitts, 44, has served as a law enforcement officer since 1999.

Meanwhile, Cleveland faces two counts of second-degree battery in Sunday’s incident.

He also faces a battery of a police officer charge for a Saturday incident in which he allegedly punched a deputy in the face and tried to strangle him while he was being escorted from a shower facility.

Cleveland has been in custody since March 8, 2013, for allegedly raping and robbing a woman at gunpoint. Two other men confessed to their involvement in the alleged incident and are serving sentences ranging from 30 to 35 years.

Cleveland has a March 31 pre-trial conference. He’s being held in lieu of $657,700 bond.

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