Inmate attempts to swipe detention officer’s gun at hospital

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Jared Wayne Decker allegedly attempted to take a detention officer's gun and escape while being treated at the hospital.

Says plan was to shoot the officer and then himself

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – Jared Wayne Decker, 36, of Safford said he would have shot a detention officer had he achieved his goal of snagging his gun while at the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center (MGRMC).

According to a Safford Police report, on July 5 Decker was transported to the hospital due to a back injury that occurred when he fell off his bed while incarcerated. Decker later admitted the injury was a ruse and it was all part of his plan to take a detention officer’s weapon and shoot him before turning the gun on himself. 

The detention officer told detectives that he arrived at the hospital at about 4:20 p.m. to relieve another detention officer and that Decker was soon given his release from the hospital. As he was preparing to transport Decker back to jail, the detention officer took off Decker’s handcuff that secured him to the rail of the hospital bed. Decker still was in leg restraints, but, after the handcuff came off the bed rail, he grabbed the detention officer’s gun and attempted to remove it from the holster. Decker later said he had his finger on the gun’s trigger and that he would have “smoked” the detention officer if he didn’t have the handcuff still on his hand.

Decker said he faked an injury to be taken to the hospital to have the chance to take the detention officer’s gun.

As the pair tussled over control of the gun, Decker allegedly yelled at the detention officer “Why don’t you just (expletive deleted) shoot me already?”

The detention officer then managed to punch Decker in the face multiple times and use the free end of the handcuffs to bring him down to the ground, where he then kicked Decker’s ankle several times. A male nurse responded to the detention officer’s shouts for help and the two managed to get Decker onto his stomach and secure him until the arrival of Safford officers.

Graham County Undersheriff Jeff McCormies said the detention officer managed to subdue Decker without serious injury to himself.

“He did what he is trained to do,” McCormies said. “He did receive scratches and those types of things.”

Decker was already being held on two separate bonds; one for $1,000 relating to organized retail theft in which he altered the UPC sticker on a vacuum, and one for $l0,000 relating to an assault charge for striking his father, possession of a dangerous drug (methamphetamine) and possession of drug paraphernalia. Those two cases both happened in May. He previously posted a $5,000 bond in Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 regarding the drug and assault charges. That bond has since been exonerated. Due to the incident, Decker now faces possible additional charges of aggravated assault and escape.

McCormies said while the procedure to transport inmates to and from the hospital was followed, the Sheriff’s Office is still performing an internal investigation into the incident.

“We have since had discussions about what occurred and analyzed it and evaluated it,” McCormies said. “Anytime a major incident like this happens we try to review it and look at it and see if there are things we could obviously improve on.”

After being interviewed at the Safford Police Department, Decker decided to be forthcoming with the officers and led them to several different locations where he had hidden or buried stolen property. He was then returned to the jail.   

McCormies said while the new jail will have a larger, updated medical facility, cases such as this that require a medical doctor will still require the transfer of inmates to the hospital. He also lauded all of the various law enforcement agencies work on the case.

“We appreciate Safford’s help and the detectives of Graham County as well,” McCormies said. “Everybody worked well together, and we were able to resolve a potentially very dangerous situation.”