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Man beat inmates, jailer with iron during escape, fought cops amid apprehension, police say

The man was only in jail for four days when he escaped.

Brule County Sheriff.jpg
The home of the Brule County Sheriff's Department. (Republic file photo)

CHAMBERLAIN — A Wessington Springs man is facing a second round of charges after authorities say he beat two inmates and a jailer with an iron during an escape.

Jesse Knight, 31, of Wessington Springs, was charged with first-degree escape, aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer, simple assault against a law enforcement officer and two counts of aggravated assault when he allegedly fought his way out of the Brule County Jail.

Authorities were called to the Brule County Jail early Monday morning to a report of an escaped inmate who had assaulted other inmates and the jailer. Upon arrival, an officer located a downed jailer with a bloodied nose and ear. The jailer told the officer that Knight — an inmate — had broken off a piece of angle iron and began assaulting another inmate.

When another inmate and the jailer attempted to intervene, authorities allege that Knight struck both individuals with the iron. Another inmate was on his knees with a towel wrapped around his head. It was later discovered that the inmate suffered a severe five-inch laceration that split his ear, and also sustained a laceration to his head. His injuries were severe enough that he was transferred to a Sioux Falls hospital.

Court documents allege that after striking the jailer, Knight was able to acquire his keys, his wallet and his police radio.

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Seven officers from three agencies then began the manhunt.

An arrest affidavit says when one officer located Knight, he stepped out of his patrol car with his weapon drawn, despite Knight's hands risen in the air. Knight allegedly was asking the officer to shoot him as he continued to walk toward the squad car. The officer holstered his weapon and tried to shut his door, but Knight managed to block the door from closing with his hand and climbed into the driver's seat of the patrol car.

When the officer deployed his taser, it was ineffective. The officer attempted to force the prongs of the taser into Knight's body when he allegedly kicked the officer back from the vehicle and locked himself in.

Knight was unable to shift the vehicle into drive, and was boxed in by patrol cars of other responding officers. Authorities were unable to unlock the vehicle, and instead smashed in the window.

The affidavit says that upon removal, Knight was uncooperative. One officer deployed another taser in an attempt to "gain pain compliance," while another officer struck Knight three times with his fist.

Knight was transported back to the Brule County Jail, where he was placed into a restraint chair.

Before he escaped, Knight was in jail for an alleged assault on Sept. 30 in Buffalo County.

A separate affidavit alleges that while on a trip from Wessington Springs — where Knight resides — to Fort Thompson with two individuals, Knight produced a knife and threatened to cut them.

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Knight allegedly threatened them multiple times during the trip. The individuals also say Knight reached over the back seat and tried to crash the truck by getting control of the steering wheel. They kicked him out of the vehicle, and left him on the side of the road.

Authorities were able to apprehend Knight, and said he was "extremely agitated" and uncooperative.

For the alleged jail attack, Knight was charged with one Class 2 felony, two Class 3 felonies, a Class 4 felony and a Class 6 felony. He faces a total of 67 years in prison, a fine of $139,000 or both.

Knight was charged with two counts of aggravated assault — each a Class 3 felony — for the alleged knife threats, and faces a total of 30 years in prison, a $60,000 fine or both.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on local news in Sioux Falls. He also writes regional news spanning across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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