Who was watching the surveillance cameras when Atlanta defendant Brian Nichols overpowered a guard and went on a killing spree? The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a lone deputy was watching 52 courthouse security screens and missed the beginning of the episode. In his first extensive interview since the killings, Sheriff Myron Freeman acknowledged there were three people assigned to watch monitors but that one deputy left for a courtroom and the other to run an errand. The sheriff, who is consulting a public relations expert, explained he has kept quiet because he didn’t “have the facts” and he didn’t “want to add to the speculation.” Freeman said his limited staff at the courthouse had been stretched, trying to do too much in stressful and dangerous situations.
Fulton County judges are in the process of hiring security consultants to review procedures at the courthouse. Freeman said the number of deputies assigned to the courthouse has been increased while the number of inmates brought from the jail to the courthouse has been reduced from more than 400 a day to fewer than 225. To deal with disruptive prisoners, guards will be able to fit inmates with arm and waistbands that can deliver electric shocks. Deputies will have to go through self-defense and physical fitness training.