Twelve booked in Tangipahoa jail death

Twelve booked in Tangipahoa jail death

TANGIPAHOA PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Tangipahoa Parish investigators made multiple arrests and revealed new details about a fatal attack on a man in the parish jail in January.

Twelve people now face charges in the death of Tommy Joe Smith of Independence.

The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division provided new insight into the circumstances that led up to what Sheriff Daniel Edwards calls an "unprovoked and heinous attack."

According to investigators, Smith was arrested and booked into the parish jail on a probation violation around 11 p.m. January 30 and placed in a dorm room along with 21 other inmates.

Investigators discovered that shortly after he arrived in the dorm and tried to find a bunk, other inmates told Smith he wasn't welcome on the second floor and needed to leave.

Smith took his mat and went downstairs, where investigators say despite being compliant and non-confrontational, he was met by the same reaction as he tried to locate a bunk there.

According to interviews conducted by detectives, Smith tried to comply with the "aggressive demands". As he tried to make his way to ask the pod deputy if he could leave the room, an inmate abruptly struck him from behind.

They say when Smith turned to defend himself, multiple offenders joined the attack in what other inmates described as a "shark feeding frenzy."

Within minutes, deputies responding to the disturbance had regained control. But, they say they found one of Smith's attackers trying to conduct CPR on Smith's lifeless body.

11 of the offenders are booked with second degree murder and obstruction of justice: Herman Bagent, Brent Collins, Lionel Brister, Randall Holmes, James Milton, Eric Newman, William Patterson, Tyquan Davis and Antwon Seymore.

A juvenile being held on unrelated homicide charges is booked with principal to second degree murder.

In addition, Faulkner and Robertson are booked with second degree robbery for allegedly stealing the victim's shoes during the attack.

Sheriff Daniel Edwards say the investigation found "all protocols relating to a response to such an event were preformed expeditiously."

But, in a news release, Edwards pledged to have a full review of the incident "to see if there is anything that the TPSO can do to ensure that this type of tragedy does not happen again."

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