Harris County Deputy Shoots Inmate Being Treated at Ben Taub Hospital [UPDATED]

A Harris County sheriff's deputy shot an inmate who was being treated for seizures at Ben Taub Hospital just after 10 a.m. Thursday, Sheriff Ron Hickman told reporters at the hospital.

According to Hickman, the inmate, Ricky Lynn Hall, grabbed a sharp-edged medical object to use it as a weapon while a doctor was treating him, placing the doctor in a threatening situation. At that time, Hickman said, the deputy supervising Hall shot the inmate twice in the chest.

Hickman said the inmate is currently in surgery, though no further information was available about his condition.

According to court records, Hall was booked into the Harris County Jail September 30 on charges of forgery, credit-card abuse and robbery — crimes that occurred on different dates since July but for which he was finally arrested following the September 28 robbery.  Hall's criminal history in the county includes various forgeries, assaults and drug charges and dates back to 1998. 

Hickman said Hall was brought to Ben Taub Hospital on October 1 for seizure treatment. 

Houston Police Department homicide detectives are currently investigating the shooting and the circumstances that led the deputy, who was not named, to use potentially lethal force. We will update this story when more information is available. 

Update, 3:30 p.m.: According to HPD spokesman Kese Smith, inmate Ricky Hall held a medical student hostage during the incident. To create his weapon, Hall had taken the strips of metal out of a pair of hospital-issued headphones (the metal from the band that joins the two earphones), folded the metal in half and held its sharp end to the medical student's throat. A deputy working fifth-floor security as an overtime job heard her screaming, then ran into the room.

"The suspect is telling the officer that he's going to kill this medical student unless the deputy shoots him," Smith said. "The deputy draws his duty weapon and gives the suspect verbal commands to drop his weapon. The suspect refuses to do so, instead repeating his threats, advancing toward the deputy, still holding the woman hostage."

As the inmate applied more pressure to the woman's neck and the woman began to struggle with the inmate, Smith said, the deputy, fearing Hall would kill the woman, fired his weapon at the inmate, striking him twice in the chest. Smith said the inmate is now out of surgery and is in critical condition.
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Meagan Flynn is a staff writer at the Houston Press who, despite covering criminal justice and other political squabbles in Harris County, drinks only one small cup of coffee per day.
Contact: Meagan Flynn