More shootings revealed at Nevada prison where handcuffed inmate killed

This comes from The Guardian (US)

April 15, 2015

One prisoner lost an eye and six inmates were wounded by shotgun blasts in two separate incidents at High Desert state prison, according to court papers.

More unreported shootings are coming come to light after the disclosure that a guard shot a handcuffed inmate to death at a Nevada prison where guns were fired more than 200 times in a recent five-year period.

Six inmates were wounded by shotgun blasts from a guard breaking up a breakfast scuffle in January 2012 at High Desert state prison outside Las Vegas, according to federal lawsuits filed on behalf of three wounded inmates. A state lawsuit was filed on behalf of a fourth wounded inmate.

Six months later, inmate Dario Olivas was blinded in one eye when a guard fired a shotgun to stop two other inmates fighting in the dinner hall, according to documents filed by attorney Cal Potter in US district court in Las Vegas.

The Nevada department of corrections deputy chief, Brian Connett, said by email on Tuesday that he was out of the state and unable to respond to questions about state and federal lawsuits reviewed by the Associated Press. Department officials have routinely declined to comment about litigation and investigations.

The revelations come with the Nevada prisons chief, Greg Cox, due to testify on Wednesday on budget questions before state lawmakers in Carson City.

Democratic assemblywoman Maggie Carlton said the Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, should become more involved in investigating reports of prison inmate deaths and injuries.

“When something goes wrong like this, it’s the governor’s responsibility,” Carlton said.

Democratic state senator Richard “Tick” Segerblom said he is troubled by the prison shootings. Nevada department of corrections data obtained by Segerblom shows guards fired 215 gunshots at the prison from 2007-11.

“The shooting of a handcuffed inmate obviously raises red flags,” Segerblom said. “These are serious cases that need to be looked at. It could be systematic [sic] of the overall lack of resources we spend on prisons.”

Sandoval has left investigations of the 12 November killing of inmate Carlos Manuel Perez Jr, 28, and wounding of inmate Andrew Jay Arevalo, 24, to local, county and state authorities. That shooting was not disclosed until a coroner’s report in March.

Potter, who represents Perez’s family in a federal wrongful death and excessive force lawsuit, alleges that guards created a “gladiator-like scenario” to let the two inmates fight in a shower hallway where prisoners are supposed to be kept apart.

The fight ended when a corrections officer trainee fired one warning shot and three live shotgun blasts down the hallway, according to an incident report that identifies the trainee only by his last name. The trainee reported that Perez and Arevalo ignored his verbal commands to stop fighting.

“It’s a system out of control that doesn’t appear to be accountable to anyone,” Potter said. “This calls out for some kind of accountability. I would hope the governor and attorney general would step forward and start answering questions.”

Read the rest here.