Delafield police shooting suspect charged in jail attack

A 24-year-old inmate at the Waukesha County Jail faces new charges for an alleged attack on another inmate – as well as an assault on a corrections officer.

Prosecutors accuse Nathanael Benton, the North Dakota man charged with shooting and wounding two police officers late last year, of first-degree intentional homicide and other crimes in the jail attack. 

According to court filings, the victim said he was asleep in his cell at around 10 p.m. on Dec. 14 when he awoke to Benton – who was housed in a neighboring cell – "coming down" on him, and didn’t realize he was being stabbed with a shank made from a sharpened toothbrush.

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The victim said he tried to block Benton’s blows with his arms. The victim and another inmate, who later witnessed the attack and tried to intervene, said Benton put the victim in a chokehold, and he blacked out.

Filings state the inmate who intervened said he was on the phone at the time when another inmate said Benton was attacking the victim. The inmate ran to the cell and "saw blood everywhere" as Benton kneeled on the victim’s back, choking him out. The man said he yelled at Benton telling him to stop. Benton then got mad that he was being interrupted, stopped and confronted the inmate. According to court documents, Benton allegedly said, "I’ll kill you next," and then resumed the attack.

Nathanael Benton

Nathanael Benton

A corrections officer said he entered the cell after a call for backup was made. The officer found Benton "slamming" the victim’s head on the floor. Filings state the man’s body was "limp" and a sheet was around his head. Benton was then removed from the cell and secured in another where court documents say he asked a Waukesha County Sheriff’s Deputy, "Is that (man) dead?" several times.

Messages left for attorneys representing Benton were not returned Thursday.

The victim was taken to the hospital where he needed a number of stitches and staples on the left side of his face, ear and head. In an interview, the victim told investigators that he "did not see the attack coming and was shocked that it happened."

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The victim said he was moved to a cell next door to Benton about a week prior to the attack and mostly stayed to himself. On the day of the attack, the victim said a new inmate arrived and took a seat in the day room where he normally sits. The victim said he sat between the new inmate and Benton during dinner. Afterward, the victim said Benton came into his cell and said, according to court filings: "Don’t ever come to me with that whiny voice again," and left – but "came back when I was sleeping."

In all, Benton faces the following charges related to the jail attack:

  • Attempted first-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, repeater
  • Assault by prisoners, repeater
  • Battery by prisoners, repeater

He also faces a disorderly conduct charge stemming from an incident with corrections officers in the days that followed the attack. 

Assault on corrections officer

On Dec. 23, a criminal complaint states "a corrections officer had been assaulted by an inmate throwing bodily fluids at the officer." That inmate was identified as Benton.

The next day, medical backup was called to Benton's pod because Benton was complaining of difficulty breathing. The complaint states he was secured in wrist restraints, assessed and then cleared by medical staff. After being cleared, the complaint states: "Benton pulled his hands inside of the tray shoot and stated he would not comply with having the restraints removed." Jail staff then exited the unit, and Benton remained secured to the door due to his noncompliance.

Waukesha County Jail

Later, Benton said he wished to cooperate with having the restraints removed. After the left wrist restraint was removed, Benton immediately tried to pull away from the staff, the complaint states. Several correctional officers were able to maintain control of Benton's arms and remove the wrist restraints and bull strap. After the bull strap was removed, Benton immediately shoved his hand out of the tray shoot before the tray shoot could be closed, the complaint states.

Benton was given several verbal orders to move his hand inside the cell, but Benton stated "he would not comply and that he would 'fight staff.'" Eventually, multiple correction officers donned protective gear and entered the pod, Benson walked to the back of his cell, and jail staff were able to safely secure the tray shoot without further issue.

Benton is due in court for a hearing on these latest charges on Jan. 12. 

Delafield shooting

Benton has remained in custody since being charged with two counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide charges relating to the shootings of the two police officers.

A registered sex offender, Benton was arrested after an hours-long manhunt in November 2020 after the officers – one from Delafield and another from Hartland – where shot and wounded while responding to a hit-and-run call at a Delafield hotel.

A trial date in that case is still pending as Benton appeals a change of venue motion. Benton was on the run at the time of the shootings, charged with attempted murder in Cass County, North Dakota.


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