The 24-year-old Fife inmate claims he was just trying to fix the sprinkler head in the inmate holding cell, the one that busted open early Tuesday and flooded the jail.
Pierce County prosecutors see the incident a little differently, so they charged him with one count of malicious mischief. The man was released on his own recognizance. It’s unclear what landed him in the city jail to begin with.
An officer in charge of booking incoming inmates heard a “whoosh” sound about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday and went to investigate. He found the metal protective cover on one of the fire suppression sprinklers had been broken off and water was flowing into the holding cells.
Police transferred several inmates to a single cell while using blankets to prevent water from entering other cells. One officer told prosecutors the incident interrupted service because Fife police and Tacoma firefighters could not respond to calls while dealing with the flooding.
The inmate allegedly admitted to “messing” with the sprinkler head but declared, “I didn’t mean to do it; I was trying to fix it because it looked bent,” according to charging papers.
Police estimate the damage to the jail at $3,000. They added the incident may cost an additional $2,000 because of after hour call-outs and cleanup.