Tag Archives: Nevada Department of Corrections

Update: Details Revealed About Evidence, Previous Arrests of Las Vegas Ex-Cop Finally Charged in 1997 Rape and Murder

Previous Charges Arthur Lee Sewall Former LVMPD Officer Murder

At a preliminary hearing, court documents revealed LVMPD Officer Arthur Lee Sewall already had a criminal history before the 1997 rape and murder he was finally charged with in January.

Last week, I wrote about former Metro Police Officer Arthur Lee Sewall Jr., who was charged with murder and rape for the 1997 killing of a woman named Nadia Iverson. The original story was that a “lack of funding” prevented the testing of the Iverson’s rape kit and other DNA evidence from the crime scene. Presumably, that made it impossible to prosecute him at the time from a lack of evidence.

After receiving a grant from the New York District Attorney’s Office, the rape kit was finally sent for testing in 2016. Then, in February of 2017, Sewall’s DNA was positively matched to that rape kit. As a result, Officer Sewall was finally charged with rape and murder earlier this month (Jan. 10th).

A sample of Sewall’s DNA had actually been available since 1999, when he was sentenced to (just) probation for a separate arrest on multiple on duty sex crimes, and he was accused by prosecutors of Iverson’s murder the very same day her body was found. Once again though, since they couldn’t scrape together the cash to test that one rape kit, Sewall was able to avoid prosecution for twenty-plus years.

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.

When he was eventually arrested  last month Sewall essentially confessed to the murder of Iverson in a statement to Metro detectives. Although, in a quote published by Mike Shoro of the Las Vegas Review Journal it does sound like he is looking to claim it was an accident:

“During the interview, he admitted to engaging Iverson in sex for money,” Sewall’s arrest warrant said. “During their sexual encounter, Iverson was shot. Sewall couldn’t account for why his gun was out or pointed at Iverson. He knew she was shot in the head and he immediately fled the scene.”

A Previous History of Violence Against Women

However, like most cases of crimes and misconduct committed by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers, it has now come out after the fact that the real story is quite a bit different than what was originally reported. Not only did court documents reveal even more details about his arrest history that predated the murder, but it also raises serious questions about why he couldn’t have been prosecuted even without the DNA evidence.

Rape Murder Charges Las Vegas Police Officer Arthur Lee Sewall

Former LVMPD Officer Arthur Lee Sewall Jr.

Those documents, which were made public at a preliminary hearing last week, also show that Metro police officers had responded to a domestic violence call at Sewall’s house in 1995, two years prior to the murder. Although he (not surprisingly) was never charged with a crime as a result, a .357 revolver was confiscated from Sewall by those officers.

As I mentioned in the original post, Officer Sewall was also arrested earlier in 1997 in a video sting operation for forcing prostitutes to perform sex acts. He was on duty and used the threat of arrest in those sexual assaults. That arrest led to his resignation from the LVMPD.

In addition, although he was only sentenced to probation for those rapes, that sentence is what required him to submit a DNA sample in 1999. As was once again mentioned in the previous post, Sewall also was arrested while he was awaiting sentencing in 1999 for propositioning an undercover cop who was posing as a prostitute in San Diego.

Sufficient Evidence Twenty Years Ago?

Based on those court documents, that .357 revolver and those previous arrests would have represented a pretty significant piece of evidence in the 1997 case for which Sewall currently faces charges. In fact, had it been pursued that alone probably would have been more than enough to tie him to the murder and secure a conviction.

Las Vegas Police Officer Arthur Sewall Murder Rape Victim Nadia Iverson

An Undated Photo of Nadia Iverson.

Back then, before Clark County’s “Blue Card” law was overturned, all handguns had to be registered with Metro. As a result, Sewall’s was officially listed as an owner of such a weapon. Obviously, there was also a record of that from when he had it impounded during his domestic violence incident as well.

According to the current arrest warrant detectives at the time determined a bullet “consistent with a .357 revolver Sewall previously registered with Metro” was used to kill Iverson. In spite of that, Las Vegas police seemingly did not even attempt to match the bullet to the gun they knew Sewall had at the time.

Not only that, but when Sewall was arrested for soliciting a prostitute in San Diego while he was already awaiting sentencing for raping prostitutes, he had that same revolver in his possession. Meanwhile, neither the LVMPD or Clark County prosecutors mad any effort to acquire the gun they obviously suspected he had used to murder someone after it was confiscated by San Diego police.

Instead, Sewall was sentenced to probation and that revolver was later destroyed by the SDPD, eliminating any chance it could be tested for a ballistics match. Officer Sewall proceeded to violate that probation numerous times over the course of the next five years with relatively little consequences for those violations. Also, as can be evidenced by his Facebook profile, Sewall was living a pretty comfortable life during the twenty years Iverson’s rape and murder went unpunished.

Incompetence or an Intentional Lack of Effort?

As has already been pointed out in previous posts, the excuse that there was a lack of funds is a ridiculous excuse for not testing the thousands of rape kits that have sat untouched in evidence rooms from as long ago as the mid-eighties. Las Vegas area city governments and police departments have had no problem coming up with well over a billion dollars in total for new government buildings, publicly funded NFL stadiums, and faulty radio systems.

They even came up with $400,000 to pay off the police chief and deputy chief at the Henderson Police Department after they were forced to resign for sexual harassment. The idea that they couldn’t somehow come up with enough money to test that one rape kit that would positively identify the person they suspected in the case literally from day one should be considered an insult to everyone’s intelligence.

But even if you disregard the DNA evidence altogether, they shouldn’t have had a very difficult time charging and even convicting Sewall. Detectives investigating the crime scene had already determined she was killed by a gun matching one they knew for a fact he owned.

The fact he had it impounded by the San Diego police during his 1999 arrest obviously means he still had it in 1997 after the murder. They very easily could have gotten a warrant to have it tested right after the murder or while it was in the possession of the San Diego police.

Regardless of any other evidence (which I’m sure there was), matching the gun to crime would by itself be pretty damning. A prostitute being raped and then killed using a gun owned by someone with a history of sexual assault and violence against women (and in particular prostitutes) would be pretty hard to explain away.

Instead of presenting (or apparently even seeking) that evidence however, investigators just filed it away along with the rape kit that they don’t seem to have had any interest in ever having processed. At best, this would have to be classified as a huge case of incompetence by the Las Vegas police and prosecutors.

In fact, it’s almost like they intentionally tried to avoid prosecuting one of their own by making sure the evidence didn’t get found. Almost exactly like that.

Original Local News Report

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Murder Charges Filed Against Former Las Vegas Cop After 1997 Rape Kit is Finally Processed Twenty Years Later

Rape Kit 1997 Murder Charges Arthur Lee Sewall Former LVMPD Officer

Former LVMPD Officer Arthur Lee Sewall Jr. has been charged with murder after a rape kit from 1997 was finally processed in 2017.

Earlier this week, former Metro Police Officer Arthur Lee Sewall Jr. was charged with murder and rape for the 1997 killing of a woman named Nadia Iverson. Iverson’s body had been found by a construction crew at an unoccupied apartment in May of that year. He was finally arrested on January 11th in Reno, where he had been living recently.

Sewall was named by prosecutors as a suspect the very same day that her body was discovered. However, although they had acquired a sample of his DNA in 1999, a positive identification of Sewall wasn’t made until February of 2017. The reason for that is because, due to a lack of funding, the rape kit collected from Iverson was not sent for processing until March of 2016.

In the meantime, Sewall spent a large percentage of those twenty years on probation for sex crimes committed while on duty prior to Iverson’s murder. In February of ’97 Officer Sewall had been caught on video attempting to force a woman to perform oral sex on him. Instead of being fully prosecuted for that crime, he was allowed to resign from the department and given a plea deal for two charges of oppression under the color of law.

He was then sentenced to probation, even though he was arrested in San Diego for soliciting a prostitute while awaiting sentencing. During that time on probation, he was caught in possession of a knife and gun by probation officers, failed to submit required reports, and also did not comply with a sex offender counseling program he had been ordered to complete.

Finally in 2004, he was sentenced to almost two years in prison for repeated probation violations. Even after being released from prison, he still didn’t comply the restrictions he was subject to as a convicted felon. At the time he was arrested in Reno, he had not registered his address change after moving from California and had to be tracked down by detectives. According to media reports (video embedded below), he then confessed to the murder of Iverson.

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.

The failure of police departments and city governments to fund the testing of rape kits across the country has left huge backlogs and prevented the arrest and conviction of rapists. As a result, many of those perpetrators have been able to continue victimizing women and committing other violent crimes for years and even decades in some cases. Others have been falsely convicted only to be exonerated once the testing was finally conducted.

In Southern Nevada alone 6,473 rape kits went untested, including approximately 5,600 connected to investigations within the LVMPD. It wasn’t until they received a $2.7 million grant from the New York State District Attorney’s Office that those kits began to get tested within the past couple of years.

Over 4,000 of those rape kits are still in the process of being tested or have not been sent out for testing to this day. Meanwhile, in recent times Metro has spent almost $300 million on a new headquarters complex, $42 million dollars on a new radio system that never worked properly (of which allegations of favoritism and kickbacks have been made), and another $26 million dollars to pay for the radio system that replaced it.

The City of Las Vegas also spent $185 million to build a new City Hall. That and the LVMPD’s HQ were both initiated in 2008. So somehow they managed to find the funding for those optional (and heavily criticized) expenditures during the worst recession in 70 years, but not for the (relatively) tiny fraction of cost that would be involved in the testing of the rape kits.

And that doesn’t even take into account the annual cost of payouts to victims of the misconduct and violence perpetrated by Las Vegas area police officers. In several recent years that money alone would have paid for all of the rape kits to be processed. That’s especially relevant when discussing a crime that was committed by one of those officers and then went unsolved for twenty years because there was no money for the rape kit to be processed.

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Update: Shooting Nevada Inmates With Birdshot Banned by New NDOC Director (For Now)

As I’ve reported here on CopBlock.org in several posts over the past year, the use of shotguns loaded with birdshot has come under scrutiny recently in Nevada prisons after a high-profile case in which an inmate was killed after a fight with another inmate. The family of that inmate, as well the family of the other inmate, who was also shot but survived, and others have made claims that the fight was instigated by guards intentionally in order to allow for the shooting.

Although the Nevada Department of Corrections continues to deny that, they have filed manslaughter charges against one of the guards involved. In addition, the former director of the NV Department of Corrections, Greg Cox, was forced to resign by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval.

In April, James Dzurenda was appointed to take over as the director of the NDOC. Prior to this, he worked in the corrections department in New York and was the DOC commissioner in Connecticut. During that time, he drafted the use-of-force policy for New York State.

In a recent interview with a local NPR affiliate in Nevada, Dzurenda has indicated that one of his first moves as the state DOC director will be to suspend the use of shotguns loaded with birdshot within Nevada Prisons. Previously, the NDOC had indicated that they would not accept the recommendations of experts who had stated shotguns should not be used by prison guards included in a report prompted by the most recent shooting and other similar incidents. However, although he states that he thinks that he feels it’s unnecessary, he seems reluctant to actually stop their use permanently, instead specifying that it is a temporary ban.

The interview also touches on Nevada’s “unique” prison culture and use of guns within those prisons. Dzurenda also indicates that he wants to focus more on rehabilitation and “reintegration” of prisoners being released back into society. plus, he wants more money (surprise!) and he thinks you can help him get it.

Via KNPR.org in Las Vegas:

Throughout history, however, Nevada has developed a unique prison culture. Huffington Post recently published an in-depth story about the use of guns inside Nevada’s prisons following the High Desert State Prison incident, and the sub-headline says it all: “Guards inside prisons shouldn’t have guns. That’s pretty much an accepted fact. Except in Nevada – and the results are mayhem and death.”

When interviewing writer Dana Liebelson, she told KNPR that Nevada’s use of guns inside its prisons “is highly unusual.” Skolnik said he agreed with her – to an extent.

“When I left, Nevada had the lowest rate of correction officer to inmates in the United States,” Skolnik said. “I don’t anticipate it’s gotten any better. If anything, it’s probably gotten worse.”

Is Dzurenda possibly wondering what he’s gotten himself into? Maybe. But he’s not shying away from tough questions about the state of the Nevada’s prisons. In fact, Dzurenda’s interview with KNPR was a first – former director Cox and interim director McDaniel never responded to multiple requests for interviews for the past few years.

One of his first orders of business, he said, is stopping the use of birdshot (the pellet-style ammunition that killed Carlos Perez in 2014) at least temporarily.

“To me, I don’t think it’s necessary,” Dzurenda said. “I’m not saying it’s going to be eliminated, but I’m going to temporarily take it offline because I think there are better things out in the world today we can use to control inmate populations.”

These things include non-lethal rounds of ammunition such as bean bags, rubber or plastic.

Dzurenda is more concerned, however, with programming inside correctional facilities – and considers an inmate’s first day at prison what should be the first day of reintegration efforts.

“If you take a snapshot today, and you don’t arrest anyone ever again, there’s 13,500 inmates in the system right now and 88 percent of those have less than 20-year sentences,” Dzurenda explained. “That means 12,000 of those offenders are released into our community pretty soon – that’s if you arrest no one.

“No matter how we feel about an offender, they are going back into the community. If we don’t funnel resources to do better for them, we’re just going to re-victimize our communities.”

As Skolnik noted, however, getting the money and resources together to have proper programming for inmates is no walk in the park. So how could Dzurenda do what his predecessors could not?

Constituents. Dzurenda may not be a political candidate – but getting the constituents to care about the people being put back into their communities might be able to get the ears of their represented politicians.

You can listen to the entire interview here on KNPR’s site.

Nevada Prison Guard Charged With Manslaughter in Fatal Shooting of Inmates (Update)

I’ve posted several times over the past year about the shooting of two prison inmates at the High Desert State Prison, which is located at Indian Springs, Nevada, just north of Las Vegas. Lawsuits by the families of those inmates, Carlos Perez and Andrew Arevalo, claimed that a fight was instigated between the two prisoners by correctional officers in order to justify the shooting.

As I’ve stated previously regarding the incident:

Both prisoners were handcuffed behind their back at the time of the fight and the lawsuits maintain that neither prisoner represented a threat to the guards sufficient enough to justify them being shot. Carlos Perez died from his injuries, while Andrew Arevalo was gravely wounded but survived. Although it was later overturned, Arevalo was also “internally convicted” of murder charges by the warden relating to Perez’ death.

As I’ve also reported, this and other incidents of shootings by Nevada prison guards led to a review of the use of force within state prisons and the use of shotguns in such incidents. A report produced at the conclusion of that review criticized prison guards’ use of shotguns by concluding “Nevada’s Department of Corrections (NDOC) is improperly relying on live ammunition instead of proper staffing.” Instead of accepting the advice to stop murdering inmates with shotguns, the NDOC responded to that report by saying they “hope to reduce the use of live rounds,” but won’t be doing so anytime soon and agreeing that they should hire more guards.

Two weeks ago in my last update, I discussed the releasing of internal disciplinary reports from the original “investigation” of the shooting, which were released as part of the discovery process in the lawsuits brought by the parents of the inmates shot at High Desert State Prison. Although they didn’t address the claims of the fight being instigated by the guards, they did pretty clearly place the blame for the shootings on those guards.

Latest: Guard Trainee Indicted

Earlier this week, former High Desert State Prison Correctional Officer Trainee Raynaldo J. Ramos was charged with two crimes in relation to the shooting of Perez and Arevalo. However, several questions remain regarding the nature of the charges, as well as the lack of any other indictments.

In light of the conclusions included within the disciplinary reports, the inmates’ families and others believe that Correctional Officers Jeff Castro and Isaiah Smith, both of whom were also present during the shooting, should have been charged, as well.

emailbannerVia Fox5 Las Vegas:

Ramos was charged with one count of the performance of an act in reckless disregard of persons or property resulting in death, and one count of involuntary manslaughter for his role in the death of inmate Carlos Perez.

According to the criminal complaint, while serving as a correctional officer trainee at High Desert State Prison, Ramos shot Perez in the chest, head, and neck while Perez and another inmate were involved in a brawl. Perez died as a result of the shooting.

Perez’s brother,  Victor Perez, believes those involved should be held accountable for his death.

“They can say all they want that it was an accident. I believe my brother was executed,” he said.

Charges were not filed against two other guards who resigned in May 2015, according to the Associated Press.

Perez’s lawyer, C.J. Potter from Potter Law Offices, said the two guards were present at the time of the shooting.

“There’s two other corrections officers there. The Department of Corrections said they failed to intervene, they allowed the two to be in that situation to fight,” Potter said.

” We do feel that the other guards are at least partially responsible because they’re supposed to be training this guard to do things the right way and they didn’t,” Victor Perez said.

Several other things including the length of time between when the issues were outlined in the internal reports, the fact that he was only charged for the fatal shooting and not the injuries to Arevalo, the changing stories that have been publicly released about the incident, and the previous attempt to charge Arevalo with murder for the death of Perez have all been pointed to as evidence of a cover-up by the prison administration.

In addition, the fact that the trainee was the only one charged and the low level nature of the charges (often referred to as a “Policeman’s Discount”) that were filed against him has been characterized as a scapegoating tactic to draw blame away from the other two guards involved and the NDOC itself.

Via ABC 13 Action News:

It’s taken nearly a year and a half, plus allegations of a cover up, for the state to charge a corrections officer in a deadly prison shooting.

Contact 13 explains why some say this is only half a cup of justice.

In November 2014, two handcuffed inmates in a secured unit called “The Hole” got into a fight at High Desert State Prison. A guard fires multiple rounds to break it up. Inmate Andrew Arevalo is seriously wounded. Inmate Carlos Perez is killed.

“Carlos’ mother, Mrs. Perez, was very concerned that there would never be that sense of justice in the case,” said Perez family attorney Cal Potter.

On Monday, the Nevada Attorney General filed a criminal complaint against former Correctional Officer Trainee Raynaldo J. Ramos.

Ramos is charged with “reckless disregard of persons or property resulting in death” and “involuntary manslaughter” for his role in the death of Perez, who was shot in the chest, neck and head.

“Why did it take this long for these distilled charges to come down?” Potter asked.

The charges come just one week after an internal prison report went public — blaming two other corrections officers for failing to follow safety procedures, failing to break up the fight and bringing “negative media attention” on the Department of Corrections. There is no mention in the report of Trainee Ramos.

Potter said, “It’s almost like a half a cup of justice at this point.”

And for only half of the victims. Arevalo was injured by the same gun in the same incident, but no one is being held criminally responsible for shooting him.

“This gives NDOC, this gives the AG’s office almost a scapegoat in COT Ramos,” said Arevalo’s attorney, Alexis Plunkett. “They’ve charged him with low-level felonies and they’ve charged the lowest person on the totem pole.

They’ve charged the trainee. And they’re attempting to remove the blame from all the higher-ups and from anyone else. It’s a trickle-down. And at the very bottom of the totem pole is the person that they’re making take the fall for this.”

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Official Report: Nevada Prison Guards Blamed For Fatal Shooting of Inmates (Update)

Last year, I posted about the shooting of two prison inmates at the High Desert State Prison, which is located at Indian Springs, Nevada, just north of Las Vegas. Lawsuits by the families of those inmates, Carlos Perez and Andrew Arevalo, claimed that a fight was instigated between the two prisoners by correctional officers in order to justify the shooting.

Both prisoners were handcuffed behind their back at the time of the fight and the lawsuits maintain that neither prisoner represented a threat to the guards sufficient enough to justify being shot. Carlos Perez died from his injuries, while Andrew Arevalo was gravely wounded, but survived. Although it was later overturned, Arevalo was also “internally convicted” of murder charges by the warden relating to Perez’ death (see the first video embedded below).

As I also posted about last year, this and other incidents of shootings by Nevada prison guards led to a review of the use of force within state prisons and the use of shotguns in such incidents. The resulting report (see the second video embedded below) stated that “Nevada’s Department of Corrections (NDOC) is improperly relying on live ammunition instead of proper staffing” and recommended they stop doing that. Not surprisingly, the NDOC responded to that report by saying they “hope to reduce the use of live rounds,” but won’t be doing so anytime soon and agreeing that they should hire more guards.

Yesterday, as a result of the aforementioned lawsuits, internal reports relating to the “investigation” of the shooting were released as part of the discovery process. While these disciplinary reports, which the Nevada Attorney General’s Office fought to keep secret, don’t address the claims of the fight being instigated by them, they do pretty clearly place the blame for the shootings on the guards involved.

Via the Las Vegas Review Journal:

The Employee Misconduct Adjudication Reports specified six allegations against Correctional Officer Jeff Castro for neglect of duty, insubordination, unauthorized use of force, false statements and unbecoming conduct that brought the Corrections Department “negative media attention.”

Correctional Officer Isaiah Smith was written up for three allegations of neglect of duty and false statements for failing to report repeated, prior security breaches “which led to an inmate’s death.”

Carolos Perez, 28, died Nov. 12, 2014, from multiple gunshot wounds. Another inmate, Andrew Arevalo, now 25, was wounded. Both men were handcuffed behind their backs when they were shot in a shower hallway in a segregation unit known as “the hole.” High Desert is about 40 miles northwest of Las Vegas, just south of Indian Springs.

The shooting death of Carlos Perez by a NV Prison Guard Has Raised many Questions

The shooting death of Carlos Perez by a NV Prison Guard Has Raised many Questions

Another correctional officer who arrived after the shooting stopped said there were “vast amounts of blood everywhere on the tier.” Another officer, identified only as Senior Correctional Officer Mumpower, evaluated the inmates who were both handcuffed and lying on the ground, according to an incident report.

Mumpower determined Perez needed immediate medical attention. He placed Perez “on his left side as he heard him gurgling on his own blood and this would allow for it to drain out,” the report said.

Prison medical staff took Perez to a trauma room and administered CPR and other treatment for about 45 minutes before he was declared deceased, the report said.

Prison officials acknowledged Perez’s death when it happened but didn’t provide details. That he was shot by staff didn’t become known until four months later when the Clark County coroner reported the cause of death and ruled it a homicide.

Two civil lawsuits, one filed by Perez’s family, the other by Arevalo, are pending.

The latest documents were contained as exhibits in a motion by the attorney general’s office seeking dismissal or summary judgment of the case filed by Las Vegas attorney Cal Potter on behalf of Victor Perez.

Besides the officers, the lawsuits name the state, former Corrections Department Director Greg Cox, the warden and other administrators as defendants. A state board in March approved hiring private lawyers to represent the three correctional officers for up to $45,000 each.

Cox resigned in the fall at the insistence of Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Castro, Smith and the trainee who fired the four shotgun blasts, Reynaldo-John Ramos, were put on leave immediately after the incident. Ramos, who was on probation, was terminated. Castro and Smith resigned May 1, 2015.

Andrew Arevalo was also shot and seriously injured by a guard's shotgun, but survived.

Andrew Arevalo was also shot and seriously injured by a guard’s shotgun, but survived.

The attorney general’s office sought to keep the internal reports secret, arguing they are personnel records not subject to disclosure.

But U.S. District Judge Andrew P. Gordon, in an April 4 order, denied the state’s motion.

“Those reports concern the state’s investigation of the events that give rise to this litigation,” Gordon wrote. “The public has an interest in seeing that the state properly and thoroughly investigates allegations of serious wrongdoing.”

At the time of the shooting, both Perez and Arevalo were in a segregation unit known as “the hole,” where regulations require that inmates be moved one at a time and “all escorts of retrained inmates are hands on.”

Castro, according to the documents, admitted he often failed to comply with the regulation, telling an investigator, “Pitch and catch, that’s the norm at HDSP.” The description refers to allowing inmates to walk unescorted from one correctional officer to another.

The report said Castro failed to directly escort Arevalo from the shower to his cell, and also allowed Perez out of the shower without a hands-on escort while Arevalo was in the hallway. The two inmates got into a fight, and Castro failed to intervene, instead leaving the area to find a pair of gloves.

“The use of the shotgun would not have been required had … Castro followed policy and had he not had two inmates out of the cells at the same time,” the report said, adding that had he broken up the fight “the other officer would not have used the shotgun to quell the fight.”

Smith was also cited for failing to intervene in the fight. The report said Smith had witnessed Castro moving multiple inmates out of the cells at the same time but failed to report the security breaches.

The Review Journal also reports that “The attorney general’s office has been investigating the case for a year for potential criminal charges.” I wouldn’t suggest holding your breath on that, though.

Nevada Prison Guards Will Continue Murdering Inmates With Shotguns

After a series of scandals involving inmates killed or injured by shotgun fire in Nevada prisons (including one I wrote about where the guards instigated a fight between two handcuffed prisoners then shot them – killing one), the resulting lawsuits prompted a review of the use of force within prisons by the Nevada State Government. The results of that report were announced on Oct. 13th:

The report everyone’s been waiting for on the use of shotguns packed with bird shot to control prisoners conducted by  an independent group made up of state correctional administrators says Nevada prison guards should not be shooting at inmates.  But prison officials say for now, shotguns are here to stay.

The report found Nevada’s Department of Corrections (NDOC) is improperly relying on live ammunition instead of proper staffing.

Guards, not guns, should be controlling inmates.

The report recommends stopping the routine use of shotguns.

And once enough guards are hired and trained there should be no need to use them at all. The report calls bird shot indiscriminate, meaning it can hit unintended targets.

NDOC has started using a rubber stinger round as an additional step before live rounds are fired.

Though they hope to reduce the use of live rounds, they maintain that shotguns are needed to stop serious assaults and to protect both staff and inmates.

NDOC agrees with many of the report’s recommendations.

Especially the need for increased staffing and more training.

Their response will now go to the board of prison commissioners for further consideration.

Essentially, that amounts to a fancy way of saying that nothing will change with the bonus prospect of bankrupting the state with the worst economy in the country a little more, in order to hire even more over-payed prison guards. Meanwhile, on par with the regularly scheduled program nationwide, but even more so in Nevada, none of the guards implicated in those scandals will be held accountable for their actions in any way whatsoever. At best, the victims or their survivors will receive a payout via lawsuits that will come from the taxpayers in Nevada, not the people actually guilty of those transgressions.

Nevada Lawsuits Claim Prison Guards Instigated a Fight, then Shot Inmates

The shooting death of Carlos Perez by a NV Prison Guard Has Raised many Questions

The shooting death of Carlos Perez by a NV Prison Guard Has Raised many Questions

A lawsuit filed in April by the family of a man killed when a corrections officer opened fire on two prisoners as they fought in a hallway leading from the showers claims that fight was intentionally orchestrated by guards in order to justify murdering the inmates. A second lawsuit filed by the other prisoner, who survived the shooting, but was gravely injured, adds allegations of a coverup by prison officials.

At the time of the fight, both inmates had their hands cuffed behind their back and seemingly could have easily been controlled by the three guards present, without the need for the use of a firearm. Instead, they were shot four times in the head and upper body with a shotgun. Both lawsuits maintain that the inmates did not represent a threat to the guards sufficient to justify being repeatedly shot.

The incident, which took place on November 12, 2014 at High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs NV, has prompted numerous questions about past shootings at the prison and the quality of training and hiring practices for prison guards within the Nevada Department of Corrections. Nevada prisons have also faced ongoing and long term criticism for the lack of medical care for inmates, including not properly treating gunshot wounds inflicted by guards. Nevada prisons throughout (and prisons nationwide) have an extensive and documented history of abuse and mistreatment of inmates by guards.

Andrew Arevalo was also shot and seriously injured by a guard's shotgun, but survived.

Andrew Arevalo was also shot and seriously injured by a guard’s shotgun, but survived.

The two inmates, Carlos Perez and Andrew Arevalo, were restricted to solitary confinement when the incident took place. Simply the fact that they were in the hallway together in the first place, represents a severe violation of policy. Per NDOC rules, inmates on solitary confinement are not supposed to be taken to or from the different areas of the prison at the same time, specifically in order to prevent such fights from happening.

In addition, Perez, who was killed by the (as yet unnamed) guard’s shotgun blasts was being held in protective custody (for undisclosed reasons) and therefore likely would have been a target of other prisoners. That has added to speculation that the two were intentionally allowed to cross paths with the expectation that an altercation would take place between them. Cal Potter, the lawyer for the Perez family, characterized the fight as a “gladiator-like” scenario created by those guards.

Subsequent to the fight, Arevalo was internally convicted of assault and murder charges by the warden of the prison, although the murder charge was overturned once it became public as part of the lawsuit. Arevalo’s attorney, Alexis Plunkett, maintains that those charges were part of a cover-up by prison officials. She states that the guards present at the time actually placed the shotgun in Arevalo’s hands, in order to make it look like he had shot Perez and then been shot by the guard. Plunkett says that the guards were expecting both inmates to die from their wounds and that their version of events would be the only one available.

Questions have also arisen about why it wasn’t disclosed until months afterwards that a firearm was involved in the death of Perez. In fact, his own family was not told that he had been shot and only discovered it when they looked at his body in the morgue. It wasn’t until March of 2015, over four months later, that the cause of death for Carlos Perez was finally made public.

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