On Tuesday, 35-year-old Joshua Harding, who was on trial facing two sexual assault charges, pulled from his sleeve what officials have described as a shank and tried to stab assistant prosecutor Jonathan Roth, video of the incident obtained by the State Journal shows.
Public entrances to the courthouse require attorneys, the public and the media to pass through a metal detector. Pockets are emptied and bags, coats and other items are passed through an X-ray machine similar to those in an airport.
When inmates are admitted to the Ingham County jail, they pass through a metal detector and a body scanner, Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth said, but those measures aren’t taken when inmates, like Harding, are taken from the jail.
Nor do they pass through metal detectors or body scanners when they arrive at Veterans Memorial Courthouse in downtown Lansing, Wriggelsworth said, adding that the issue is something that may be reviewed after the events in Judge James Jamo’s courtroom Tuesday.
Wriggelsworth said he will meet with judges this week to discuss any security concerns or questions they might have.
Ingham County Chief Circuit Judge Janelle Lawless said judges met with a state court security expert Wednesday. She added that the meeting had been scheduled prior to Tuesday’s incident and was prompted, in part, by the July shooting in Berrien County Circuit Court.
She added that the court is already “in the process of reviewing security measures,” but that Tuesday’s incident “validated” the judges’ concerns about court security. She said metal detectors at the back entrance for inmates is a Sheriff’s Office issue, but something the judges “will certainly be supporting.”
“We are very thankful that there were no serious injuries on Tuesday,” Lawless said. She judge credited the quick actions of the three law enforcement officers in the courtroom with preventing something worse.
A message was left seeking comment from Ingham County Prosecuting Attorney Gretchen Whitmer.
As a jury was walking into the courtroom on the third floor of the courthouse with its verdict, the video shows Harding appearing to pull something from his sleeve before charging across the room at Roth.
In the video, Harding appears to target Roth specifically, running past another assistant prosecutor to get to Roth.
While appearing to be holding the weapon, which officials have described as a shank, the video shows Harding tries to stab Roth but misses, possibly due to the efforts of Det. Brian Canen of the Meridian Township Police Department.
Harding ran at Roth from the prosecutor’s left. Canen, who was standing on the other side of Roth, sees Harding as he’s halfway to the prosecution table and starting to raise his right hand, which appears to have the weapon. Roth ducks and Canen’s arm appears to deflect Harding’s arm as the detective starts to tackle Harding.
From the video, it appears Harding’s weapon missed Roth’s face by inches. As Canen tries to tackle Harding, who Wriggelsworth said weighs about 280 pounds, Harding appears to swing his arm at Roth again.
Two Ingham County deputies, who were in the back of the courtroom, responded to the incident within seconds. One helped Canen bring Harding to the ground and the other jumped onto the pile to help get Harding under control.
It took Canen and the two deputies about 30 second to roll Harding onto his stomach and handcuff him.
Officials said Tuesday evening they believed a deputy had suffered a broken nose during the incident. Wriggelsworth said todaythe deputy suffered a cut to his nose but it wasn’t broken. He added that the deputy is expected to return to work on Friday.
Harding suffered minor injuries, the sheriff said.
Charges expected next week