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Officer resigns amid Central Prison investigation

Posted May 20, 2009
Updated May 21, 2009

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— A correctional officer resigned Wednesday during an investigation into an unsupervised use of pepper foam on an inmate who has claimed assault in the past by prison guards.

The officer responded to a disturbance at 3 a.m. Saturday and found Timothy Helms cursing and beating on the door of the prison's hospital ward he occupies with four other inmates, the state Department of Correction said.

Helms suffered brain damage after sustaining injuries last year while at Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville. He has claimed he was left paralyzed after being beaten by prison guards.

DOC officials said in a news release Wednesday that Helms had left his bed, gotten into his wheelchair and wheeled himself to the door before he began banging on the door, DOC said. He was not injured in the incident.

Officials did not say why Helms was banging on the door.

"This agency's job is to protect the public safety and the safety of inmates and employees in our facilities," DOC Secretary Alvin Keller said in a news release. "I will not tolerate anyone who operates outside of established policies and procedures and puts that safety at risk."

According to an emergency room doctor, Helms allegedly set fire to his cell last August, and officers had to subdue him by beating him on his body, face and head.

Earlier this month, Keller spoke out against Helms' claims, saying he had numerous chances to complain of an assault the night of the fire and the next day while talking with authorities.

A State Bureau of Investigation probe found injuries on Helms' head and back were not consistent with a beating.

Helms' attorney has said it might take a lawsuit to determine what happened.

Helms was sent to prison for three life terms after a fatal drunken driving accident in 1994. He has been eligible for parole since 2004, and has another parole hearing on June 1.

A grand jury did indict him on charges related to starting the fire in his cell.


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  • atlast May 22, 2009

    Sorry. I meant an inmate has a better chance of being bite by a deer tick.

  • atlast May 22, 2009

    Again, I hope readers of this site do not find out what actually goes on in a prison. Who do you think charges inmates with infractions? What inmates (and the naive public) are told in writing is not the same as what actually happens. As for lawyers at tax payer's expense, a person has a better chance of getting bite by a deer tick, than getting one who will do more than advise the inmate to hire their own attorney and do it in the time allowed by law. Please people get educated about how a prison actually is run before you or someone you know learns the hard way.

  • skholar09 May 22, 2009

    Once again, inmates and not correctional staff rule the institution. Whatever happened to inmates having the basic minimums, but yet the state of North Carolina provides them with lawyers to sue staff with our tax money.

  • atlast May 22, 2009

    True, I do not nor will anybody know the details because employee records are private. However, I do know that this guy would not had resigned unless he was at risk of being fired. I find it interesting that infraction of people housed there are public. Why not staff information. Shows how one sided the system is. In addition, readers of this site knows how of some the so called scum there have been freed based on law enforcers lying to get innocent people (victims of the legal system) convicted.

    I know some people deserve punishment, but they are still humans with the same basic needs as people on the outside. Again, I do know the system is rigged in favor of guards who dare/taunt inmates to tell how they are treated. I hope no reader of this comment finds out the hard way how rigged the system is.

  • myworld007 May 22, 2009


    Just because the OFFICER resigned don't mean he felt he was guilty. There is so much more to a situation such as this. Of course the media blows everything up and makes it a lot worse than it is in a lot of cases and this is one of them. The Officer apparently did not follow procedure to the fullest. Maybe the Officer made the right decision to resign maybe he didn't that is a matter of opion and most can not have an accurate account unless you know full details if the situation.

  • atlast May 21, 2009

    The guard would not had left his job unless he knew he had done wrong. For people who do not know this, all a guard has to say is the inmate lied and the inmate will be charged in-house for saying something that could affect the guard's job. The guard forgot about the camera that are there to find out who is lying and who the criminal is when something happens.

    Guards do things to inmates out of camera range and dare the inmate to complain. And by the way, not all people housed there have been convicted. They are treated as if convicted even if they have never had their first appearance. Don't be so sure inmates are scum, you or someone you know can end up there and then you will be yelling for help that no one can give you.

  • somey May 21, 2009

    I think one of you wonderful libs should get this man out of prison and let him live with you. Ahhhh, what a wonderful life it would be for you....one big happy family.

  • True Blue in Wake County May 21, 2009

    and I'm supposed to feel sorry for the convict why again????

  • amyrn May 21, 2009

    A previous story recommended that the prisoner be released into Hospice as he no longer is a danger to others. That is totally stupid. He can get in a wheelchair....he poses a danger to other more helpless individual citizens in any setting. Keep him in prison. Hasn't he harmed enough people?

  • dare107 May 21, 2009

    Of course the guard is quilty until prove innocent!!! Yeah this guy had brian damage, he was a drunk and killed brian cells everyday he was alive being a drunk. People in prision that have lost their rights should loss all their rights!! Including the right to sue anyone!!!!