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Inmate Chokes To Death After Biting Off Guard’s Watch

July 29, 1985

ATTICA, N.Y. (AP) _ The death of an inmate at the Wyoming Correctional Facility was attributed to apparent asphyxiation after a watch he bit off a guard’s wrist became lodged in his throat.

Jerome Crittenden, 30, of Rochester punched two corrections officers outside the mess hall of the medium-security prison Sunday, and, while Crittenden was being wrestled to the floor, he bit the watch off of one guard, according to Correctional Services spokesman Jim Flateau.

Crittenden refused to take the watch out of his mouth, was handcuffed to a stretcher and carried to the special housing unit where he refused to a mandatory frisk search, Flateau said.

The inmate kicked and yelled when a nurse tried to remove the watch from his mouth. It lodged in his throat and he began choking, Flateau said.

Officers unsuccessfully performed the Heimlich maneuver, Flateau said, and he was pronounced dead a half-hour later at a nearby hospital, Flateau said.

An investigation is continuing, Flateau said, including what prompted the altercation between Crittenden and guards. An autopsy will be performed Monday.

Crittenden was serving two and one-half to five years for third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

The 500-bed Wyoming facility is adjacent to the maximum-security Attica Correctional Facility.