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Former Nevada Prison Guard Who Fatally Shot Handcuffed Prisoner Enters Alford Plea

by Matt Clarke

On October 29, 2019, a former probationary Nevada prison guard entered a plea of nolo contendre to a felony charge of attempted performance of an act or neglect of duty in willful or wanton disregard of safety of persons or property resulting in death. The charge was in connection with the fatal shooting of an unarmed prisoner who was handcuffed behind his back.

As previously reported in PLN, Carlos Perez, 28, was incarcerated at the High Desert State Prison when probationary Nevada Department of Corrections (DOC) guard Raynaldo John Ruiz Ramos, now 39, shot him multiple times with a shotgun, fatally wounding him. At the time, Perez was in an administrative segregation unit hallway, handcuffed behind his back and in a scuffle with another prisoner, Andrew Arevalo. Perez was struck in the head, neck and chest. Arevalo was hit in the face but survived. [See: PLN, Nov. 2016, p.52].

An attorney representing Perez’s family said Ramos and two other guards set up a “gladiator-like scenario.” An internal disciplinary investigation concluded that former guards Jeff Castro and Isaiah Smith were culpable in the incident, which took place on November 12, 2014. Ramos was fired in spring 2015 and charged with two felonies – the one to which he entered the Alford plea, and involuntary manslaughter. Castro and Smith resigned in May 2015; they were not charged for their part in the incident.

DOC policy at that time permitted the use of shotguns to control prisoners, but Ramos said he received very little training from the DOC.

Prison officials reported the death the next day, but did not say it resulted from a shooting. That came out four months later, when the Clark County coroner reported the death as a homicide caused by multiple gunshot wounds.

As a result of his Alford plea, Ramos, a veteran, was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation at the Department of Veterans Affairs, follow any recommended treatment plan and give the court quarterly reports on his progress. He must also perform 10 hours of community service each month for two years. If he is successful, his charge will be reduced to a gross misdemeanor.

Perez’s family filed a lawsuit against the guards, the state and the DOC, but delayed pursuing it pending the outcome of the criminal case.

“There has got to be some accountability for the person who shot the gun and reloaded and shot again,” said the family’s attorney, Paola Armeni. “That doesn’t mean that the accountability has to be 20 years in prison. But 10 hours of community service is not accountability for a death. And in my opinion devalues the life of Carlos Perez.” 



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