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Orange County California Jail Guard Investigated for Burning Mentally Ill Prisoner

Twenty days after the incident in April, 2021, the Sheriff’s department submitted the case to the county’s District Attorney for prosecution, their statement says. The Sheriff is also conducting a separate internal affairs investigation to determine if policy violations were committed by the deputies’ actions.

On April 1, a guard in the Intake Release Center’s mental health housing unit was trying to serve a prisoner with a disciplinary notice, according to the investigation. When the guard requested a signature, it was refused and the prisoner extended his arms through the cell door hatch, refusing to retract them when asked.

The guard left and returned with two other guards who tried to gain “voluntary compliance.” The prisoner again refused to comply, and one guard allegedly threw hot water on his extended arms to try and close the hatch.

Later, during a security check, the prisoner asked for medical assistance for his injuries, which were visible. He was provided with medical attention.

The following day, all three of the guards involved were placed on administrative leave, and an investigation was launched into the assault. The three guards were not identified in the formal statement because California law protects police personnel from such identification, officials said.

The Sheriff showed little tolerance for his deputies’ actions. “I am absolutely intolerant of this behavior,” said Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes. “Deputies working in the Orange County Jail are responsible for care and safety of the inmates in our custody, not causing harm or injury. Unfortunately, the actions of one can reflect on the many, but I want to make it clear that this is not indicative of the conduct of deputies inside the Orange County Jail.” Which is odd given the long sordid history of brutality and corruption at the jail, which PLN has extensively reported over the years.

Barnes continued, “I have reiterated to our personnel that anything that even resembles this type of inexcusable behavior will not be allowed, and that anyone who goes beyond their training and Department policy will be held fully accountable. We have completed a criminal investigation and submitted it to the District Attorney’s Office for a prosecutorial decision. It is my expectation that the District Attorney will review this case in a timely manner to determine if charges are warranted.”

Editors’ Note: These are big words coming from a sheriff’s office with a long trail of lawsuits, broken bones (from “chicken-wings and “pretzels”), murdered prisoners, dead babies, political corruption, fraud and book censorship across the pages of PLN, including a former sheriff sent to prison himself in 2007. Sheriff Barnes was quoted just a few years ago regarding a 2018 civil rights lawsuit surrounding the torture and in-custody death of Cristobal Solano, stating the “claims of inhumane treatment at Orange County jails are patently inaccurate,” adding that “many of the allegations in the lawsuit are rooted in a perspective that is anti-incarceration.” Those lawsuits ended up costing taxpayers millions. See a glimpse of our past Orange County coverage in PLNs: Nov. 2009, p. 38; June 2018, p. 28; Dec, 2019, p, 20. 


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