Deputy on mend after jail attack

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department deputy is expected to recover following a violent attack by a jail inmate Wednesday evening, authorities said.

Deputy William Lamb, 47, was working a housing unit when inmate James Leon Washington, 18, suddenly attacked, striking the deputy in the face and pounding his head into a concrete floor, said Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Stacey Bourbonnais.

Two other inmates rushed to Lamb's aid, pulling Washington off the deputy and restraining him until other staff members could respond, Bourbonnais said.

Lamb was unconscious and unresponsive when deputies first arrived. He was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center, where he was treated and released Wednesday night, Bourbonnais said.

Lamb, hired at the department in 2006, is expected to fully recover, she said.

Questions linger as to what allegedly set Washington off.

"The attack was sudden and without warning and no motive has been determined," Bourbonnais said.

Washington has been jailed since May 10 on charges of criminal damage to property, second-degree, and violation of probation. Additional charges are pending, Bourbonnais said.

Records show the arrest was Washington's fourth in a year.

Washington was transferred to a cell in J-Pod, a maximum security area of the detention center for inmates with disciplinary problems.

The incident marks the first serious altercation involving an inmate and deputy since 2003, Bourbonnais said. She credits the inmates who intervened with preventing a bad situation from getting worse.

"Had the inmates not intervened, it could have been much worse," she said.