Oak Park Heights Officer Dies after Medical Emergency; Responded Earlier to Officer Assault

September 24, 2018 10:14 PM

The Department of Corrections confirmed a corrections officer from the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights died Monday after a medical emergency. 

Via email, Sarah Fitzgerald, a spokeswoman with the DOC, identified the officer as Joseph Parise. 


According to Fitzgerald, at approximately noon, a different officer at the facility was assaulted by an inmate. Additional officers, including Parise, responded. 

Fitzgerald said two of the staff were injured during the incident. Both were evaluated and released. 

After the incident, Fitzgerald said Parise returned to his post, where he experienced a medical emergency. 

He was taken to Regions Hospital, where he later died. 

Fitzgerald said Parise's cause of death has not been determined. 

The Department of Corrections is also investigating the incident that occurred earlier in the day. The facility has been placed on lockdown.

"This is a very difficult day for our Oak Park Heights officers and employees, and our entire department," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "We are deeply saddened by today's events."

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Gov. Mark Dayton also issued a statement on Parise's death.

"Officer Joseph Parise was a dedicated state employee, who worked hard every day to protect the safety of his colleagues and our communities," it read.

"We are deeply saddened by Officer Parise's sudden and tragic death. On behalf of all Minnesotans, I offer my heartfelt sympathies to his family, friends, and fellow Corrections Officers."

Prisons across the state were placed on lockdown in July after a corrections officer was killed by an inmate at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater.

And Monday's incident comes just a week after a corrections officer was reportedly assaulted by an offender at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Faribault in an incident that left four officers injured in all.

Earlier this month, two inmates at Oak Park Heights were charged with fourth-degree assault of a correctional employee, probation officer, prosecutor or judge after an incident last February in which they are accused of attacking correctional officials as inmates were returning to a housing unit at the prison.

According to the DOC website, the Oak Park Heights prison was opened in 1982 and can house a population of up to 473 inmates, meaning it has the highest custody level in the DOC system. Of the 396 inmates on file with active sentences there, 307 are serving sentences for homicide.

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Frank Rajkowski and Ben Rodgers

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