Charges: Corrections sergeant left partially blind after assault by inmate

A Minnesota correctional sergeant is dealing with permanent vision loss and is still undergoing medical procedures after she was assaulted by an inmate earlier this year.

Court records show that the accused inmate in the attack, 36-year-old Dominique Antoine Jefferson, was charged Friday with first-degree assault.

RELATED: DOC: Sergeant assaulted at Oak Park Heights prison, hospitalized

According to court documents, Jefferson was at the Oak Park Heights prison on Jan. 15 when he asked to talk to a member of the crisis intervention team. The correctional sergeant came up to him and said she was part of that team but he replied that he didn’t want to talk to her so she told him to “switch in” and return to his cell.

That’s when Jefferson allegedly said, “Better ring the bell. I ain’t switching in. I’ve been waiting for you,” a criminal complaint states.

The sergeant reached for her radio but Jefferson suddenly punched her in the eye, sending her to the ground and causing her to bleed profusely from the face, the complaint states.

As other correctional officers restrained Jefferson, the complaint says he told them, “I ain’t done yet. When I get out of seg I’m hitting all of you on me now … Let go of me and I’ll do the same to every one and each of y’all. I’ll remember y’all when I come out.”

The correctional sergeant was taken to a trauma center and had significant damage to her right eye as well as several facial fractures. She’s since been told her retina is permanently detached from her eyeball and can’t be reattached, and she’s permanently lost vision in her right eye.

Additionally, the sergeant has been told she’ll need at least four more surgeries to repair the facial fractures she suffered.

“Correctional officers face the daily challenge of maintaining order and safety in some of the most challenging and dangerous environments, often at great personal risk,” Washington County Attorney Kevin Magnuson said in a statement. “We are grateful to the Minnesota Department of Corrections and the department’s Office of Special Investigations for their dedicated efforts in bringing this case forward.”

“Under no circumstance is the assault of a correctional officer tolerable, and the permanent harm that resulted from this assault is life-altering,” Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell said. “We stand in support of the sergeant who suffered this horrific injury and we are grateful to the Washington County Attorney’s Office for their thoughtful review of this case, which resulted in these serious criminal charges.”

Jefferson was serving a 35-year sentence for aiding and abetting a 2004 murder. A first-degree assault conviction could add up to another 25 years to his sentence.

The charges come in a week where at least seven Minnesota correctional officers were assaulted by inmates — three each Monday and Tuesday and another one on Thursday. Those assaults all remain under investigation for possible charges against those responsible.

Dominique Antione Jefferson (Minnesota Department of Corrections)