A Flagler County Sheriff’s corrections deputy was hospitalized Friday afternoon after being assaulted and beaten by two inmates at the Flagler County jail. The agency is not releasing the deputy’s name, citing the provision of Marcy’s Law that protects the identities of victims of crime.
One of the alleged assailants is Marion Gavins, the 20-year-old man facing a first-degree murder charge in the shooting death of 18-year-old Curtis Gray in April 2019 in Palm Coast.
The other is Carlos Dupree, 34, arrested last December, when he was on federal probation out of St. Louis, Mo., on charges of home invasion robbery with a firearm, grand theft, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment, resisting arrest and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The Friday incident resulted in new charges for both men: aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, depriving an officer of means of protection or communication, and resisting an officer with violence, all felonies.
The incident took place at 1:23 p.m. Friday.
Both men were being prepared for a meeting and had requested to bring religious items with them. They were allowed to do so, but had to go through the normal procedure of having the items searched first. Gavins submitted to the search. But Dupree would not allow the deputy to search his Koran, though the deputy told him the search was necessary if Dupree was to carry the book with him. When the deputy reached for the book, “Dupree, with his free hand violently shoves [the deputy] away from him to prevent him from taking the” book, Dupree’s arrest report states.
A violent encounter followed, Gavins jumped in, shoving the deputy against a wall, and the deputy was struck at least 25 times, according to Sheriff Rick Staly, who reviewed the video. The arrest reports state he was struck in the head, losing consciousness and the ability to defend himself for a brief moment. He’d attempted to reach for his radio but the violence of the blows prevented him from doing so.
“These are both very violent offenders that our deputies feed them, they take care of them, and they didn’t appreciate it,” Staly said this morning. “The deputy was just doing his job, and they attacked him.”
“Dupree and Gavins struck [the deputy] so many times and with such force that [the deputy]’s duty belt became unsecured from his person, further preventing him from calling for emergency assistance,” the arrest report states. “During the attack, Dupree was yelling ‘Allahu Akbar!’ with each blow that he delivered to [the deputy]. Deputy Meyer eventually heard the attack taking place and was able to render assistance in taking the two subjects into custody. However, even with Deputy Meyer’s assistance Gavins continued to resist the deputies by continuously striking [the deputy] in his back and the right side of his head with his closed fist.”
Myers “did a great job getting both inmates under control as other deputies were responding to the cell block. This was a very violent encounter,” Staly said. He said the deputy was in his right to search the books, which can be hollowed out and used to carry weapons. Muslims consider the Koran holy and have protocols about its handling.
“I don’t care what an inmate thinks, I’m going to follow the law, and the law says that we have the right to search their belongings,” Staly said. “It doesn’t matter to me what the hell book it is, it could be a Bible , it could be a Koran, it could be one of these romance novels, we’re going to search it. It is very well known that inmates hollow out books and hide contraband out, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a Bible, a Koran, or what it is, what a great way to try to hide something, to try to hide behind your religious rights.” Staly said he expanded religious rights at the jail since becoming sheriff, but would not jeopardize safety over such rights.
Staly said video footage of the encounter will not be released. He cited an exemption in law that allows footage not to be released if it reveals security procedures. “This shows a significant portion of the security operation inside the jail,” he said.
The deputy was transported to AdventHealth Palm Coast. “It’s very fortunate the deputy was not more seriously injured,” Staly said. “He does have some injuries consistent with a violent attack.” The sheriff said physicians reported he may have had a slight concussion. The deputy was released after a series of tests and was recovering at home. He’ll be out for a few days, depending on doctors’ determinations. The inmates were not injured either during the confrontation with the deputy or subsequent to their arrest, Staly said. “These two violent offenders were just trying to test the system, and they lost, and I was very fortunate that the deputy was not more seriously hurt,” he said.
Dupree had been on federal probation out of St. Louis, Mo., where he’d been convicted on felony and gun charges. He was to be on federal probation until early 2023. His listed address at the time was 4612 San Francisco Avenue in St. Louis.
The earlier charges were the result of an incident involving two teens (16 and 15) and Dupree who’d allegedly invaded a Palm Coast house on Prospect Lane, robbed several residents then fled in a car that crashed at Palm Coast Parkway and Colbert Lane. The incident at the house allegedly involved violence by the assailants against the residents and threats of shooting them. At least one gunshot was fired. (Depree’s arrest report listed four assailants.) Two handguns were later recovered from bushes as sheriff’s deputies arrested the two boys and Dupree. (See details here.)
Inevitably when encounters between law enforcement and individuals, in jail, prison or elsewhere, involves religious items, expression or symbolism, the incident potentially takes on a different cast–the more so when those involved are Muslims, given the ideologically fraught atmosphere of the last two decades and the association of Allahu Akbar-type exclamations in the middle of violent encounters with militancy. Regarding Friday’s incident, Staly said: “I’m absolutely convinced my deputy did everything by the book and followed the procedures. The deputies’ actions were professional. The inmates’ actions were violent. They brought this on themselves.”