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Guards' Shots Kill Inmate in San Quentin

May 27, 1987|Associated Press

SAN QUENTIN — One inmate was fatally shot and three others wounded Tuesday when a racial fight broke out in the exercise yard at San Quentin Prison, forcing guards to open fire, a prison official said.

Percy Kimbrough, 29, of Los Angeles, serving a 15-year-to-life sentence for second-degree murder, was shot once in the chest by guards after nine inmates refused a warning to stop fighting, said John Reid, administrative assistant to the warden.

Two other unidentified inmates were wounded by gunfire. One was struck in the shoulder and the other in the wrist, Reid said. Another inmate suffered stab wounds.

The incident was the first inmate slaying since January, 1986, when a prisoner died after being stabbed, Reid said.

The fight among blacks and Latinos began at 11 a.m. in an exercise yard and quickly escalated to the use of prison-made plastic stabbing instruments, Reid said. Two prison guards on the gun rails issued a warning to the inmates, fired warning shots, and then fired nine rifle rounds into the group, he said.

Pronounced Dead

After the shooting, the inmates stopped fighting and the injured were taken to the prison infirmary, where Kimbrough was pronounced dead. Kimbrough reportedly also had a small stab wound in his lower back.

Kimbrough was black and the stabbing victim was black, while the other two shooting victims were Latino, Reid said.

Reid said the inmates who were identified as being involved in the melee have been confined to their cells. He said the matter is still under investigation.

Reid said he did not know how many inmates were in the exercise yard--which has a handball court, basketball area and weightlifting equipment--at the time of the incident, but he indicated that there were more than a dozen.

He said guards found eight plastic homemade stabbing instruments in the yard. The inmates use plastic because it cannot be detected by prison metal detectors, Reid said.

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