FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — A Forsyth County inmate will be charged after allegedly attacking two county detention officers on Friday, according to Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough and Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill.
On Wednesday, after watching a video of the assault, O’Neill said that he agrees with Kimbrough that Matthew West, 24, should be charged with felony assault. Kimbrough then announced that the sheriff’s office will be charging West. He is now facing two counts of felony assault on detention employees causing serious injury and one count of felony possession of a weapon by a prisoner. In court on Thursday, they described the shank as being made from a “detention properties box.”
“I have seen the video,” O’Neill said. “It is hard to believe that people that serve and protect us every single day can be assaulted and attacked anywhere.”
What we know about the attack
At about 12:30 p.m. Friday, a 61-year-old officer was doing a routine check of inmate West’s cell on suspicion that he had a weapon.
West is currently being held on a number of charges, including the killing of Victor Hardy, who was shot to death on Patterson Avenue in the early morning hours of January 10, marking Winston-Salem’s first homicide of 2022.
West was already in the Forsyth County Detention Center on Jan. 14 when he was charged with Hardy’s homicide. Another man, Joshua Atkins, was charged with attempted murder in the case.
West was also accused of having a weapon in his cell prior to this search, back in June.
The sheriff says during the search of his cell, West allegedly attacked the woman and then assaulted another officer who came to help her. No weapon was used in the assault and it lasted about a minute before other officers responded and subdued West.
The 61-year-old woman, whose name is being withheld, has a concussion and a fractured orbital bone and had to get stitches. The male officer who responded to assist her has a brain bleed, a dislocated shoulder, a torn calf muscle and a concussion. They were hospitalized.
As of Wednesday, the sheriff says the male officer continues to have headaches and blurred vision.
West was taken to the hospital as well, and he was released back to the detention center later.
Both officers who were assaulted have been with the department for over 15 years, according to the sheriff.
Sheriff Kimbrough says that he spoke with West after the incident on Friday, saying that West not only bragged about the assault but threatened to do it again if given the chance.
Sheriff responds to accusations on social media
A Facebook post from the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office public page addressed allegations from the man’s mother, with a statement from Sheriff Kimbrough.
“It has been brought to our attention that a post was made about one of our Detention Officers in which the full truth was not told,” the post reads in part. “This weekend he brutally assaulted 2 of our Detention Officers, including a 61-year-old female Detention Officer. When our detention officers responded and attempted to restrain him after the fact, he became combative, and force was used to ensure the safety of our detention officers.” It goes on to explain that no one kicked or stomped on West. “The officers will be affected by their injuries for months and years to come due to the resident beating them,” the statement concludes.
On Sheriff Kimbrough’s own public Facebook page, he also addressed the issue, stating in part, “If you have any concerns about your son or what happened, contact me directly.”
On Wednesday, the sheriff confirmed that the man’s mother had a chance to view the video.
“She said she didn’t recognize or see her son do anything, and at that point, I said it’s tomfoolery,” Kimbrough said.
The situation is being investigated by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office. West’s bond has been increased to $1.5 million.