Tag Archives: COs

Update: LVMPD Officer Caught on Body Cam Beating Woman For Littering Sentenced to Year in Prison

Excessive Force Prison Sentence Las Vegas Police Officer Richard Scavone

Las Vegas Metro Police Officer Richard Scavone has been sentenced to one year in prison for assaulting a handcuffed woman as part of a plea deal.

A Las Vegas police officer has been sentenced to one year in prison as part of a plea deal for beating a handcuffed woman. As I posted about previously on NVCopBlock, LVMPD Officer Richard Scavone was caught on his own body camera assaulting the woman in January of 2015. He had decided that Amanda Vizcarrondo-Ortiz was a prostitute, even though he readily admitted later to having no actual proof of that.

He then decided to arrest her for loitering and also for littering, after she threw her coffee on the ground. In the process of profiling her for legally standing on a public street, Scavone became angry because she cursed at him. In retaliation for her not respecting his authoritah (AKA committing “contempt of cop“), he assaulted her multiple times.

In addition to throwing her on the ground, he also slammed her head against the hood of his car twice (after she complained about him touching her breasts), grabbed her by the throat and hair, and slammed her into the door jam of the car as he was shoving her into the back seat. During that entire time, Vizcarrondo-Ortiz was handcuffed and not in any way whatsoever physically resisting.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

As I also posted about, Vizcarrondo-Ortiz  later filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Officer Scavone. Also named in the excessive force lawsuit were the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Travis Buechler, a former Corrections Officer. Buechler, who has since been fired for some undisclosed reason, stood by and watched Scavone beat a woman like a Good Cop without reporting it or interceding in any way to stop it. She reportedly suffered permanent injuries to her head, back, and neck during the attack. That lawsuit was settled for $200,000 of taxpayers’ money in July of 2016.

Eventually, due to the body cam footage (embedded below) and the pending lawsuit Scavone was charged with several federal crimes including assault and falsifying an official police report to justify that assault. In September of 2017, he accepted a deal to plead guilty to just one count of “deprivation of rights under color of law.”

In spite of having all but one charge dropped and a letter from retired LVMPD Sgt. Raymond Reyes that spoke glowingly of his award winning career, impeccable reputation, and referred to him as “cop of cops,” Scavone actually received a harsher than expected sentence. Earlier this month, on January 11th, he was sentenced to a year in prison and an additional year of probation. He was also fined $20,000 given 300 hours of community service by U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware II.

Body Camera Footage of Officer Scavone’s Assault:

Posts Related to LVMPD Police Brutality

Building More Prisons is Not the Solution to Prison Riots

This post was written by and originally published at the Center For a Stateless Society (C4SS) under the title “More Prisons is Not Reform.” Posts and other content can be submitted to the CopBlock Network via the CopBlock.org Submission Page. (Note: This has been posted in its original form and no edits to the original text were made.)

This post relates to recent riots within the United States prison system and specifically two riots at Holman Prison in Alabama, which took place in March of this year. Nick makes the point that it’s the underlying problems and abuses within the prison system itself and not just the singular symptom of overcrowding that caused those riots. Building even more prisons (which inevitably will also be filled to beyond capacity) is not the answer to those issues.

Previous posts by Nick Ford that have been shared on CopBlock.org can be found here, here, and here. If you appreciate the things Nick has written, you can support him directly here.

More Prisons is Not Reform

Holman Prison in Alabama is home to death row and many there have little to lose should something go wrong. Given the degrading conditions of prisons and their lack of security for prisoners, it should come as no surprise that riots took place on March 11th and 14th.

The first riot happened when a prison guard was stabbed during a fight between two inmates. A prison fire was subsequently started by inmates so they could get access to another part of the prison. The riot included 100 inmates and went from Friday night into Saturday morning before control was re-established and the prison put on lockdown.

An inmate who was interviewed by WHNT 19 News over the phone explained, “What [the officer] did was not professional. They teach them not to do what he did. He went in swinging his stick and throwing inmates around. You know, if you try being in prison for 20 years, people get tired of seeing their fellow convicts get treated that way.”

On Monday while Holman was still on lockdown, an estimated 70 inmates barricaded themselves in a dormitory room after the stabbing of another inmate. WKRG News was able to get a phone call with an inmate there who “said inmates are fed up with deteriorating conditions and overcrowding within the prison system, something even Governor Robert Bentley has acknowledged is a serious issue in Alabama.”

Unfortunately the answer by both Bentley and media like Alabama.com has been to build more prisons.

Bentley and others agree that the riots are symptomatic of a system that isn’t working. But instead of trying to reduce sentences, challenge discriminatory practices or expand alternatives we’re given the choice to expand prisons.

Then again it shouldn’t be surprising that the response from the people in power to necessary and radical action on the part of inmates is milquetoast at best. Yes, the riots were necessary, despite perhaps being inadvisable. Prison riots are acts of desperation that will more naturally occur under such brutal and repressive systems. There’s no need for moral condemnation of the inmates; desperate people act desperately in an attempt to become empowered.

The proposed expansion of prisons from Bentley includes, “merg[ing] the state’s maximum security prisons — about 14 in all — into six prisons, four of them new.” But suspiciously Bentley has also pushed for a one-time exemption for letting a single company build these new prisons. The inevitability of sweetheart deals is much too great to be surmounted by well-meaning liberals.

Governor Bentley thinks focusing on older prisons and merging some will help save money. As true as this may be it still won’t bring back all of the casualties that the Alabama system has caused.

One casualty was death row inmate Timothy Jason Jones. Jones committed suicide in 2006 before he could be sentenced to death for a murder conviction. Jones was a drug user, aggressive, and shied away from his responsibilities by fleeing the scene.

But instead of trying to understand him, prosecutors called him a “monster” and confined him in a locked cell where he eventually killed himself. My point isn’t that Jones was a good person but that instead of giving him the chance to prove he could’ve been the state decided he’d be better off rotting in a cell.

There are are other ways to deal with justice.

Organizations like Common Justice and Community Works West both specialize in alternative forms of justice and specifically transformative and restorative justice. These organizations help inmates feel they can still successfully contribute meaningful things for themselves and their communities. They involve prisoners in their local communities and try to encourage meditation as ways to address underlying issues of crime. As organizations they may not deal with death row inmates specifically but their promise is great.

The success of these models helps release pressure from the overcrowded and bloated prison systems that the inmates expressly used as one of their underlying motivators. If we can help build alternatives to prisons that use positive collaboration instead of fear and dread, perhaps we can begin to more meaningfully address overcrowding.

Instead of expanding prisons, let’s work to expand alternatives.

Update: Woman Beaten by LVMPD Officer For Littering Has Filed Civil Rights Lawsuit

LVMPD Police Brutality Excessive Force Officer Richard Scavone

In January, I posted about former LVMPD Officer Richard Scavone, who was caught on camera assaulting a woman. The immediate reason for his violent actions that day was that she had thrown a cup of coffee on the ground while he was in the process of profiling and harassing her. In reality, it was a case of “contempt of cop” in which the woman didn’t properly bow and scrape to his authoritah and possibly a bit of showing off to the corrections officer he was giving a ride along to at the time.

Now the woman he attacked and then arrested on trumped up charges to justify that arrest has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against him. In that lawsuit, Amanda Vizcarrondo-Ortiz names the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Officer Scavone, and former Corrections Officer Travis Buechler who was with Scavone at the time of the incident. Cal Potter, a Las Vegas civil rights lawyer, is representing Vizcarrondo-Ortiz in the lawsuit.

Via the Associated Press:

A California woman who authorities say was illegally beaten by a police officer wearing a body camera has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking damages from Las Vegas police, the former patrol officer and his partner at the time.

Officials have called the case one of the first to use body-camera video against an officer wearing the device.

Amanda Vizcarrondo-Ortiz of Los Angeles said in her lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas that she suffered permanent face, neck and back injuries during her January 2015 arrest on littering and loitering for prostitution charges. The charges were later dropped.

Ortiz’s lawyer, Cal Potter, called her beating and arrest unjustified “street justice” for offending the arresting officer, Richard Thomas Scavone, by throwing a cup of coffee on the ground and refusing to put her hands behind her back to be handcuffed.

“He videotaped his own misconduct,” Potter said of Scavone. “It’s our belief that there was no basis for the stop or the arrest…”

The video hasn’t been made public. Officials have said it shows the woman’s face bleeding after she was thrown to the ground, grabbed by the neck and slammed by her head on the hood of a patrol car.

Scavone reported that Ortiz was combative and that he felt his safety was threatened.

A hearing date hasn’t been set in the civil lawsuit that also names the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and a former corrections officer, Travis Buechler, who was with Scavone at the time. It seeks damages greater than $225,000 and a declaration that the department’s use of a law banning loitering for prostitution is unconstitutional.

Officer Laura Meltzer, a police spokeswoman, cited department policy and declined to comment on the civil lawsuit. She said Buechler was suspended last July and fired in September after three years as a corrections officer. The court record didn’t indicate if Buechler had a lawyer.

Former Officer Scavone is still awaiting trial on the federal charges stemming from that incident. As stated in the AP quote, Former Corrections Officer Buechler has been fired, although there has been no indication when that happened or whether that was related to the beating.

Update: The bodycam video has now been released. Also, Vizcarrondo-Ortiz received a $250,000 settlement in June of 2016.

Shifting Prisoners to New “State of the Art Facilities” Won’t Eliminate Prison Abuse

This post was written by and originally published at the Center For a Stateless Society (C4SS) under the title “Tutwiler Prison Will Live On.” Posts and other content can be submitted to the CopBlock Network via the CopBlock.org Submission Page. (Note: This has been posted in its original form and no edits to the original text were made.)

This post relates to the impending closure of Julia Tutwiler State Women’s Prison, a facility located in Montgomery, Alabama that is notorius for rampant sexual abuse and other types of abuse, as well. Much like the clamoring for the closure of the detention center located at Guantanamo Bay, the perception is that simply shifting its residents to an alternate location will somehow eliminate those abuses, even though in reality the only real change will be geographical.

Tutwiler Prison Will Live On

Content Warning: Discussions of rape and sexual abuse

After over two decades of abuse, Julia Tutwiler Prison, located in Montgomery Alabama, will close. After almost two decades of prison guards sexually assaulting, abusing and raping inmates, Tutwiler prison will be closed. After nearly two decades of investigations, reformist legislature, promises on the part of the prison to improve, Tutwiler prison will close.

But Tutwiler prison will live on.

The governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, has said in a speech that Tutwiler prison will be closed so that Alabama may have a “complete transformation of the state’s prison system.” But adds that “These aging prisons will be consolidated and replaced by four, newly constructed state of the art facilities.”

And so Tutwiler prison will live on.

Tutwiler prison maintained its rampant sexual abuse even after a 2004 bill, advocated for by Amnesty International and the C4SS’s own Charles Johnson, had been passed. The bill was aimed at terminating and prosecuting abusive guards. But within the span of 2009-2013 only 18 cases of sexual abuse were reported in a prison well known for its widespread abuse.

As Charles Johnson notes, “the first basic obstacle is no matter how unambiguously written and strongly worded the law is, it is always nearly impossible ever to safely try to get a[n abusive guard] prosecuted from inside your cell. … The same overwhelming, full-spectrum life-and-death domination that facilitates the endemic, repeated rape also makes it impossible to defend yourself from them through legal processes.”

Removing this dynamic from prisons would mean prison abolition. And since we can safely presume Governor Bentley doesn’t believe in prison abolition, it’s safe to say that Tutwiler will live on.

Last year the US Department of Justice reported that Tutwiler had a population of women living in constant fear. They were in a highly-sexualized environment where abuse was so rampant that the prison was found to be in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

But all prisons are cruel and unusual.

Because of the aforementioned dynamics between prison guards and prisoners there will always be abuse and a reluctance to prosecute the abuse. In Tutwiler, reports from victims were discouraged by perceived or actual retaliation from prison guards. Guards at Tutwiler were often allowed to resign instead of being terminated. And thus were able to easily reintegrate themselves into another prison.

In this way too, Tutwiler Prison shall live on.

To make matters worse, the claims by victims of sexual abuse were frequently dismissed as the rantings of mentally ill patients. Polygraphs, known for their unreliability, were used as primary means to determine the validity of an accusation. Most insultingly, if the prisoners said it was consensual, then it was treated as such. And all of this only happened if an investigation actually occurred after an accusation, which it more often than not didn’t.

Treating accusations like this is not uncommon in prisons. A place where the abusers hold supreme power and have he legal system backing them engenders little accountability. Abusive prison guards are akin to police officers accused of murder in that they’re rarely indicted for, let alone convicted of crimes.

So, as you might expect, Tutwiler will live on.

ABC 33/40 recently reported that the Lovelady Center in Birmingham will take more than 100 inmates from Tutwiler. Lovelady is a rehabilitation facility for female convicts. But it’s also “faith-based treatment for women” and aims at converting the female convicts to Christianity.  Anyone who is either non-religious or isn’t interested in being proselytized is likely to feel excluded.

The rest of the women who will not be taken into those relatively merciful hands teeming with religious indoctrination will suffer in other ways. They may end up another number in recidivism statistics, or if they are freed, deal with the social isolation that comes with being a convict. Given that some will have their votes taken away, their job opportunities diminished and incredible social stigma, do you think they’ll stay out of prison for long?

Through these aftereffects, Tutwiler will live on.

And it will continue to live on until we abolish prisons.

Florida Department of Corrections Officers Arrested for Beating, Cover Up

This post was submitted by Spencer Udell, via the CopBlock.org submissions page.

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Date Of Incident: 07/15/2015
Officers Involved: Justin Clemons, Cody Gabbard, Adrian S. Hill
Contact Number: 850-488-5121

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Former Corrections Officer Cody Gabbard

In Lake City, Florida, a prison guard and a former prison guard at Columbia Correctional Institution were arrested on multiple felony charges in connection with an attack on an inmate last month. The two officers are being accused of planning an attack on inmate Nate Evans and submitting and falsifying reports to justify the use of OC spray as well as their unneeded use of force.

Officer Justin Clemons and Officer Cody Gabbard were booked into the Baker County Jail Wednesday on charges of falsifying official records, battery on an inmate, and conspiracy to commit battery on an inmate, according to a statement made by the Florida Department of Corrections. An arrest warrant was served on Gabbard at his home by the Baker County Sheriff’s Office, and Clemons was arrested by the Office of the Inspector General and the Union County Sheriff’s Office when he arrived to start his shift at the prison.

Nate Evans Florida Inmate Beating

Nate Evans

The two officers stated in their reports that the inmate spit on them and that order to gain control of the situation they needed to deploy OC spray as well as restrain him with the use of physical force. During an internal investigation by prison officials, a review of the prison’s CCTV cameras showed that this was not what happened. The officers fabricated their reports to justify committing the attack.

The FDOC said, “An investigation into the use of force incident remains open and active, despite the arrests.”

This is not the only recent incident in which the Florida Department of Corrections has either fired or has brought charges against one of its own. Officer Adrian S. Hill was arrested just a few weeks prior to this case on battery and falsifying records in connection with a July 23 altercation between Hill and 18-year-old inmate Phillip Alderman Jr. at Lake City Correctional Institution.

– Spencer Udell

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