NORTH DARTMOUTH (CBS) – Inmates’ lawyers are among the many calling for an independent investigation into a violent disturbance that broke out at the C. Carlos Carreiro Immigration Detention Center in North Dartmouth Friday that sent three inmates to the hospital and left a unit completely trashed.

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson gave the media a look at the B-Unit after a brawl left the place ransacked. Water fountains, sinks and washing machines were ripped from the walls, and shattered glass littered the ground.

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Sheriff Hodgson said about 10 inmates reported at least two symptoms of the coronavirus Friday evening and became violent when it came time for testing.

“We had to call in our special operations team, we had to call in our K-9 unit,” he said. “…They obviously had done everything they could to blockade the doors.”

A picture of ruined walls at the detention center. (WBZ-TV)

The inmates that were taken to the hospital are expected to be fine. The 10 inmates involved are facing malicious destruction and assault and battery charges, but the sheriff said more charges could follow.

One lawyer says he was on the phone with an inmate when the fight broke out.

“My client suddenly cried out in pain. It seemed like – saying ‘Don’t hit me, don’t hurt me.’ The phone was then apparently dropped,” said attorney Ira Alkalay.

Another lawyer said some inmates refused to go to the medical unit for testing out of fear for their health.

“They were very fearful of being exposed to an entirely different inmate population…sick patients,” said Kelly Morgan of the Central West Justice Center.

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Both lawyers joined Congressman Joe Kennedy Saturday, calling for an independent investigation of what sparked the violence at the ICE detention center.

“The next step in this process is to ensure that there is an open and independent investigation to determine exactly what happened and ensure the rights of every single individual behind bars,” Kennedy said.

The ACLU of Massachusetts said in a statement Saturday that they also think an independent investigation is necessary.

“Matters like these require transparency in order to ensure trust in government during a pandemic. That is particularly true where the leader of that institution has been accused of personal misconduct during the incident,” the organization wrote.

Sheriff Hodgson defended his actions Saturday, saying he plans to look at all the evidence.

“We have a camera – they threw coffee on it. They’re reviewing those clips to see what they could pick up,” he said.


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Tiffany Chan