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John Thompson

Elizabethton Bureau Chief
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Police say inmate grabs guard’s spray during melee

September 1st, 2011 11:42 pm by John Thompson

ELIZABETHTON — A prisoner in the Carter County Jail has been bound to a grand jury after he reportedly seized a canister of pepper spray from the duty belt of one jailer and used it against three officers.
Elbert Kurt Crites, 22, 777 Highway 91, was charged with three counts of aggravated assault following the Tuesday night incident at the jail.
Corp. Jonathan King said he was in the control room of the jail and had just issued an order that Crites would not use the F-Block for his one-hour recreation time. King said when Crites came back through the lobby he was cursing and verbally abusive.
Responding to the outburst, King came out of the control room to assist Officer Kenny Cordell in placing Crites back in his cell. King said Crites met him at the door and “immediately took an aggressive stance to tackle me.”
King wrestled Crites to the floor. During the struggle, King said Crites took the pepper spray canister from King’s belt and began trying to spray the officers trying to bring Crites under control. The officers included King, Cordell and Officer Kevin Kemp.
After a brief struggle and several bursts of pepper spray, the three officers were able to remove the pepper spray canister from Crites.
King said Crites continued to struggle as King gave him the command to “stop resisting.” He said Crites did not stop until a one-second burst of pepper spray hit him in the face. At that time Crites began to comply with orders and was placed in handcuffs and leg shackles.
He was then moved to the laundry room, where he was placed in a shower to decontaminate him. Once he was decontaminated, Crites was placed in a holding cell.
Crites appeared in Sessions Court on Wednesday. Judge John Walton ordered Crites to be bound over to the grand jury and to report to Criminal Court on Nov. 22.
Crites had previously been charged with aggravated assault in July when officers said a security camera showed Crites hit fellow prisoner Zachary Armand Tessier, 23, 701 Allen Ave., with a tray.
Both Crites and Tessier had previously been charged with vandalizing the jail. Crites had been charged after King found a large hole in the wall of F-Block on the early morning of June 27 with the vent cover on the ceiling missing. He found Crites covered in concrete dust. King said Crites admitted he had made the hole. Tessier had earlier been charged with cutting a sleeping mat into small pieces and using a toothbrush to break a sprinkler head and flood the jail.

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