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California Guard Fights Prisoner, Faces Charges for Falsifying Reports

A California prison guard who challenged a prisoner to a fight, then engaged in a cover-up to avoid getting in trouble, is now facing criminal charges for filing false reports.

In April 2012, state prison guard Christopher Cruse, 41, pleaded not guilty to six felony charges arising from a February 23, 2011 fight with prisoner Frances Allen on the "hard yard" of Facility D at Kern Valley State Prison. Cruse was charged with filing a false peace officer's report, as well as filing false insurance claims after going on stress leave following the incident.

An internal affairs investigation found that Cruse had challenged Allen to fight following a brief argument. A tower guard allowed them onto the yard, where they exchanged blows. Cruse quickly found himself on the losing end of the brawl.

A second guard, identified only as "Officer Murphy," then stepped in to stop the fight. When Cruse and Murphy realized that others had witnessed the incident, and that Cruse's injuries would be hard to explain, they tried to frame Allen by tackling him in an empty hallway and reporting that he had attacked Cruse without provocation.

Allen, facing a possible life sentence for a "third strike" conviction, disputed Murphy and Cruse's self-serving lies.

A subsequent investigation revealed that a sergeant had participated in an initial cover-up of the fight, ordering a guard to scrub Cruse's blood off the yard with a brush and bleach. Additionally, a report concerning the fight had been deleted from the prison's computer system.

Cruse resigned on February 21, 2012. Following his arrest, he was released on $60,000 bond. Two unidentified prison employees were fired in connection with the fight and attempted cover-up, another staff member received a two-year suspension without pay, and a lieutenant and guard received salary reductions.

Allen was charged with a disciplinary offense for fighting with Cruse, but did not face criminal charges; he had 90 days added to his sentence as a result of the disciplinary violation.


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