Officials say inmate killed in riot at Central Coast state prison

Sep 26, 2017

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) said one inmate died and nine others wounded in what's being described as a 'large-scale' riot at the California Men's Colony (CMC) in San Luis Obispo County.

UPDATE 9/26/17: The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation released additional details of the riot at the California Men's Colony that left one inmate dead. 171 inmates have been identified as potential participants and are now being held in a solitary 'administrative segregation unit.'

Lieutenant Monica Ayon said the riot broke out late Sunday morning during hours in which the inmates could roam the prison's yard, hang out in their cells and greet weekend visitors. She said the riot started because of a fight between inmates in the fenced yard outside. It is not known what the fight was about or if it was gang-related.

Ayon said jail staff followed established protocol, firing rubber 40 millimeter projectile rounds and pepper spray at the rioting inmates. She says the staff was responding at their highest level of security.

"Everyone at the prison was responding," Ayon said. 

Nine inmates were sent to various hospitals throughout the area with stab wounds. Ayon says the weapon or weapons used are not known at the time, and that the number of suspected participants could go up or down as the investigation continues. The CDCR says the prison is currently on a 'modified program,' where inmates must be escorted by prison staff if they want to move across the grounds. Investigators are currently talking to everyone who was a witness or involved in the riot. According to Ayon, three inmates remain in the hospitals in stable condition. 

The riot reportedly started around 10:50 a.m. on Sunday morning. The CDCR said 25-year-old Matthew Cook and the nine other inmates were transported to an outside hospital after suffering from stab wounds inflicted during the riot. Cook died a little after 1 p.m. 

Ron Yukelson is the spokesperson for Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center. Yukelson said the hospital received six patients from the prison around noon on Sunday. Two of the patients were in critical condition, and four were considered 'less serious.'

"We were told to prepare for a mass casualty incident," Yukelson said. "And at 10:20 p.m. the mass casualty incident was called off."

Yukelson says three patients were received at other hospitals.

The riot involved over 160 inmates and took place in the medium security part of the prison. The CDCR is reporting jail staff attempted to disperse the riot with 40 millimeter 'less-than-lethal' bullets and 'chemical agents.'

The CDCR said jail staff is investigating the matter, while inmate movement is 'limited' for the time being. The CMC houses just under 4,200 prisoners.