Savannah, GA (WSAV)- There’s new information about the Chatham County corrections officer fired after an inmate’s recent escape.
Twenty-eight-year-old Joseph Cooper refused to take a polygraph test about what happened when inmate James Buchans got away last week and that’s officially why he was fired, Chatham County Sheriff Roy Harris said Wednesday.
But Harris said it’s clear, the corrections officer was in on the getaway.
When you work at a place where people are always focused on getting out, there are bound to be those trying to push the envelope with the ones in charge.
“Once you compromise yourself to an inmate, then the inmate’s the boss,” Harris said. “They will always come back to use it to their advantage.”
Harris said that’s why there’s extensive training for corrections officers about the ways inmates manipulate staffers into bringing in contraband. But despite the constant reminders, evidence shows two-year corrections officer Joseph Cooper gave in to James Buchans and other inmates’ requests.
“It wasn’t weapons, probably cigarettes and lighters and things such as that. That’s the type of contraband we unfortunately see officers smuggle in,” Harris said.
But what happened January 20th is what sparked an investigation.
Buchans, a non-violent offender on work detail, got away.
Cooper was in charge and waited a while to tell authorities the headcount was off, and that Buchans was out of sight.
“Well, you’ve got three inmates, you don’t have to count very high at that particular point to realize somebody’s missing,” Harris said.
Harris has no doubt Cooper was in on the escape, where Buchans’ girlfriend drove up and took off with the inmate, allegedly to get pills.
Statements from the officer, Buchans and other inmates showed Cooper aided in the getaway, but
ultimately, it was his refusal to take a polygraph that got him fired.
Buchans and his girlfriend were both caught and arrested on charges related to the escape.
The sheriff’s spokesman said everything is done on their end regarding Cooper– which means he’s just out of a job.