A Sheriff’s Deputy was brutally attacked and injured Tuesday, April 2 at the judicial center while preparing to transport a high-profile inmate to the Grayson County Detention Center (GCDC) following a court appearance.
Special Deputy Roscoe Swift, with the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO), along with Deputy Damian Burgin, with the GCDC, was conducting a typical transport of eight inmates, including accused serial bank-robber Todd Berkley, who the FBI dubbed ‘the Elmer Fudd bandit,’ when the incident occurred.
According to GCSO Detective Jeff Kelsey, when the group reached the basement-level area where the detention center’s transport vehicle was parked, known as the sally-port, Berkley attacked Swift with an ink pen, sinking it into Swift’s neck to the point that it hit his collar bone and the pen broke.
Kelsey said that he believes Berkley was aiming for Swift’s trachea, and that Swift may have saved his own life by tucking his chin as Berkley attacked him from behind.
After his make-shift weapon broke, Berkley attempted to use the handcuffs which he had managed to slip off in the incident to further injure Swift’s neck.
During the attack, Berkley attempted to incite the other seven inmates to assist him in taking down the deputies, Kelsey said.
Burgin, who had been at the rear of the group, while Swift was at the front, quickly caught up to the scuffle. Berkley broke away from the deputies and was able to get inside of the transport van, demanding the keys from Swift.
Burgin removed Berkley from the vehicle and the deputies subdued Berkley before transporting all eight inmates back to the detention center and reporting the incident, as per protocol, Kelsey said.
Following the incident, Swift was treated at Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center for his injuries. Burgin sustained minor injuries in the scuffle as well, according to Kelsey.
While there are cameras in place to monitor all areas of the judicial building which inmates have access to, Kelsey said that at the time of the incident, the van was blocking the camera’s view of the attack. He went on to say that the camera did, however, capture the moments before the incident, during which Berkley can be seen checking Burgin’s location before moving toward Swift.
Investigation is ongoing into the incident, and it is still not known how Berkley came to be in possession of the ink pen he used to stab Swift.
Kelsey said that he is also looking into how Berkley was able to remove his cuffs. He said that it appears that Berkley asked to use the restroom prior to transport and was able at that time to somehow put the handcuffs back on more loosely, though at this point this is only a theory.
Kelsey said that as a result of the attack and subsequent attempt to escape in the transport van, Berkley will be charged with assault in the first degree, assault in the third degree, attempted escape, inciting a riot, and attempted theft over $10,000.
“Anytime we have something like this happen, we always try to see if there’s anything we could do better. We want to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Kelsey explained.
Kelsey said that during his seven years with the department, he cannot remember any other incidences of a deputy being attacked during transport.
Chief Deputy Tony Willen also said that this is “one of the first ones that we’ve ever had.”
Berkley was appearing in Division Two Circuit Court Tuesday on charges of possession of a controlled substance (heroin) in the first degree, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He has been held at the detention center since his arrest in Clarkson months ago. An Illinois native, Berkley is thought to have robbed banks in Illinois and Kentucky, and was nicknamed Elmer Fudd by the FBI because of the flannel shirts and caps he was wearing during the robberies.
When his photo was released by Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD), an anonymous tipster alerted authorities that Berkley was staying at the Renfrow Street home of his girlfriend, Tracey Phillips. GCSO, along with backup from Kentucky State Police officers, responded and arrested both Berkley and Phillips, who were found to be in possession of what Sheriff Rick Clemons called a large amount of heroin.
Berkley is scheduled to be back in court again on May 7 for sentencing.