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Sheriff’s Office: man was able to kick open door of high security cell

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office released the following press release regarding a man being able to kick open the door of the high security cell he was being held in at the Whatcom County Jail.

On July 4 at approximately 6:30 pm, Corrections Deputies were alerted to an inmate out of his cell. This inmate, 23-year-old Christian Dillard, was being held in one of the highest security units in the downtown jail. When he kicked the cell door, the door lock experienced a mechanical failure and the cell door opened into an outer security area. Mr. Dillard then began kicking the lock on the door to the hallway. Deputies responded and for over an hour, attempted to convince Mr. Dillard to return to his cell. He refused. The Corrections Emergency Response Team was deployed and moved Mr. Dillard to a safety cell.

Because of the age and failure rate of the locks and doors, the lock to this cell was replaced in 2020, as part of a facility-wide project.

“Mr. Dillard is an extremely dangerous and violent inmate,” stated Sheriff Bill Elfo. “He previously committed a very serious assault upon a Corrections Deputy that resulted in a debilitating traumatic brain injury. Mr. Dillard poses a very serious threat to our deputies and the public at large. This breach is just one more example of a long series of failures involving jail infrastructure and security systems and illustrates that retrofits to the deteriorating jail facility cannot be relied upon. I have requested that the County Facilities Department, which is responsible for maintaining the jail, carefully inspect all locking mechanisms to help prevent a recurrence of this nature. I have also ordered that all public tours of the jail and visits non-essential to its operation be suspended until such time that we receive assurances from the Facilities Department that all locking mechanisms and doors can be secured.”

Mr. Dillard was booked on charges of Burglary 2nd and Malicious Mischief 2nd on May 21. He was temporarily released on June 9 for treatment. Probable cause was developed to arrest Mr. Dillard for Escape Community Custody. He was arrested on June 10 for Escape and Assault 3rd. A charge of Criminal Trespass 1st was added a few days later by the Prosecutor’s Office and a charge of Malicious Mischief was added on June 13 based on an incident that occurred in the jail indicating that he used a telephone to break the security glass in his cell door. Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office (July 5, 2023)

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