Inmate takes selfies and posts them to Facebook while in jail transport van

Published: Apr. 27, 2016 at 7:47 PM EDT
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CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- In an interview inside the Western Regional Jail, inmate Shane Holbrook tells WSAZ about how he managed to take selfies and post them to Facebook, all while in police custody.

Holbrook is currently facing charges of robbery and malicious wounding. He's accused of shooting a man during a robbery back in February.

Police say Holbrook approached a vehicle in the 500 block of 20th Street and pulled a gun on three men, demanding money. During the alleged robbery, police say Holbrook shot one of the men in the thigh.

Even though he is facing serious charges, handcuffs didn't stop Holbrook from posting light-hearted selfies on social media.

"At the time, I didn't think about the consequences," Holbrook told WSAZ's Kaitlynn LeBeau in the visitor's center of the Western Regional Jail Wednesday.

Holbrook was in court Monday for a hearing where he requested home confinement. Judge Farrell denied the request and also denied his motion for dismissal, Holbrook says.

"It was unfair," Holbrook said. "I guess the state has their reasons for what they do. It is almost election year, too. So I guess they're trying to be tough on crime."

He says his judgement was clouded by what happened in the courtroom and that he wasn't thinking about how taking selfies while in custody could get him or others in trouble.

"I was focusing on the negative outcome of court and my caring went out the window about the situation," Holbrook said. "I wasn't going to dwell on the negative. I was going to focus on the positive and keep moving forward with this."

In order to move forward, Holbrook says he needed to let his friends and family members know that he was OK following the hearing.

While on the jail transport van, Holbrook took three selfies and posted them to Facebook. From the time stamps, he had access to the website for at least 20 minutes.

"I had some family members that seemed concerned about me," Holbrook said. "I just wanted them to know I was alright -- not to stress too much."

The captions on the photos say, "On the van," "Go hard all day," and "Keep up." He says those are inside jokes with his loved ones. "Keep up," he says, is his way of telling his friends and family members to keep their heads up while he is behind bars.

In the photos, Holbrook is in an orange jump suit, chains and handcuffs. He is posing and smiling with other inmates.

"We just wanted to pose and let our families and loved ones know that we wasn't doing that bad," Holbrook said.

We asked Holbrook what he used to take the photos.

"I think there might have been a cell phone involved," Holbrook said. "It might have been a cell phone involved in taking the pictures. That's about as much as I can say on that."

"You can't say for sure it was a cell phone?" WSAZ's Kaitlynn LeBeau asked.

"I can say I think it was a cell phone," Holbrook said.

Holbrook also wouldn't say how he got the device, but vaguely said that it was sometime between when he left the jail for court and when he returned.

"Let's just say I found it," Holbrook said. "It was within my reach."

The inmate says even though the jail has its own phones, he wanted to show his family members that he was remaining positive. He also says he knew that what he was doing was against the jail's policy.

"Yeah, you're not allowed to have a cell phone in jail," Holbrook said. "I know you're not allowed to have a cell phone in jail. It just happened. It's just the way things work sometimes. Lightning strikes trees, comets fall to earth, a guy in jail gets a cell phone sometimes. That's just the way this works."

Lawrence Messina, a spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, released this statement:

"The West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority requires pat-downs of all individuals when they enter its custody, as part of the agency’s zero tolerance policy against contraband. The incident in question remains under investigation. The device at issue was confiscated before the inmates entered the Western Regional Jail."

Holbrook says he was strip searched when he left the jail and when he entered the jail Monday.

"The officers did do their job to the fullest right there," Holbrook said. "I can't say they didn't. I just know how to use the system to my advantage sometimes."

Even though Messina says the device was confiscated, "They never found the phone on me," Holbrook said.

Holbrook says that he does not regret taking the pictures or even posting them. However, he said that he is sorry for the way in which he did it. He said he wasn't thinking about the potential consequences.

"I regret that somebody may get in trouble," Holbrook said. "I know there's people with jobs and families to feed and if this falls on someone and they lose their job because of this, I'm a feel like a piece of crap for a while. But at the same time, I'm a kid at daycare. And just because I drank the bleach, doesn't mean it wasn't my fault."

He would not comment on his charges. Judge Farrell called Holbrook a threat to the public and set a $200,000 cash-only bond.

Holbrook said he doesn't believe he is a danger to the public and says he is now waiting for indictments to take his case to trial. He is hoping for a not guilty verdict or an acquittal.

It is unclear if Holbrook will face additional charges for the selfie incident as it remains under investigation.