FBI launches probe after Alabama inmate activist injured

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FILE - In this Thursday, April 23, 2009, file photo, a correctional officer walks inside a fence past inmates at Donaldson Correctional Facility near Bessemer, Ala. The Alabama prison system says it has asked the FBI to help investigate a violent altercation at the facility on Jan. 30, 2021, that hospitalized two officers and two inmates, including a well-known prison rights activist. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves, File)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Three Alabama correctional officers are on leave as the FBI helps to investigate a prison altercation that hospitalized two officers and two inmates, including a well-known prison rights activist, the state prison system said Monday.

The Alabama Department of Corrections said the incident occurred between staff and inmates at William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer on Jan. 30. The two officers suffered stab wounds and Robert Earl Council and Ephan Moore, both inmates at the prison, were taken to hospitals for treatment of their injuries, the prison system said.

Council, sometimes known as Kinetic Justice, is a prison rights activist who has been involved with prison strikes and other organization efforts. He is serving life without parole for murder.

The U.S. Department of Justice is waging an ongoing lawsuit against Alabama, alleging that state inmates are subjected to unconstitutional levels of violence from both inmate-on-inmate assaults and a pattern of excessive force. The state has denied the federal accusation.

The department said it could not release further information until the investigation is complete.

“We can, however, confirm that three correctional officers have been placed on mandatory leave pending the results of the investigation. We also can confirm that the FBI has agreed to assist in conducting a joint investigation into the incident,” Corrections spokeswoman Samantha Rose said.

Rose said it was not unusual to ask for federal help in an “investigation of this nature where federal law potentially may have been violated.” She did not elaborate.

The prison system said Council was taken to a hospital but is now back in prison custody.