Monroeville corrections officer dies from injuries at Holman

Published 1:46 am Saturday, September 17, 2016

An Alabama Department of Corrections officer died Friday as a result being stabbed by an inmate on Sept. 1.

Kenneth Bettis

Kenneth Bettis

Corrections Officer Kenneth Bettis, 44, of Monroeville, succumbed to his injuries at 5:35 p.m. on Friday at the University of South Alabama Hospital in Mobile. Family members were by Bettis’ side at the time of his death.

“On behalf of the Alabama Department of Corrections, I extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the Bettis’ family during this tragic loss. Officer Bettis was known among his colleagues as a firm, but fair corrections officer, and was highly respected for his work ethic and dedicated service to his profession,” said Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn.

Dunn said the Department of Corrections will prosecute the offender responsible for the officer’s death to the fullest extent of the law.

Cleveland Cunningham was charged with attempted murder after he assaulted and stabbed Bettis. Prison officials report Cunningham stabbed Bettis in retaliation for being denied an extra tray of food in the facility’s dining hall during the noon meal.

Cunningham is serving a 20-year sentence on a 2013 first-degree robbery conviction out of Baldwin County. The charges against Cunningham will be upgraded to murder.

Bettis had served as a corrections officer at Holman since 2009. In addition, the officer was a military veteran and had served on active duty in Iraq with the Alabama Army National Guard. Bettis’ military awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and Southwest Asia Service Medal with Bronze Service Star.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Officer Kenneth Bettis during this very difficult time,” Gov. Bentley said. “Officer Bettis was a dedicated civil servant taking on the difficult role of corrections officer. I want to thank Officer Bettis and his family for his years of service to the people of Alabama, through his work at Holman Correctional Facility and his time serving in the Alabama Army National Guard.”

Bettis is survived by his wife and three children.

Members of ADOC’s Critical Incident Stress Management Team and chaplains are assisting the family and providing counseling support to the correctional staff at Holman.