Last month, there was a riot at High Desert prison near Susanville, California. (see Prison Riot at Susanville, Prison Town USA )
Initial reports from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation did not state the reasons for the riot, although it was suspected that it may have been gang-related. The Department said approximately 75 prisoners were involved and that they were “predominantly black and hispanic.”
Those initial reports also stated the injuries were stab wounds, but unsubstantiated reports at the time said at least one inmate was shot.
It is now known that one inmate was shot in the hip. That inmate was not taken to the hospital immediately, but to the prison infirmary. That would be understandable for a life-threatening injury that needed to be stabilized. What is strange is that the injury was not reported at the same time as the others.
Sources close to the prison heard the riot started because Black inmates were moved into a dangerous area, controlled by “Nortenos,” a Northern California hispanic gang.
Some of the Black inmates protested, refusing to go because they knew it would cause trouble. A Sergeant Correctional Officer concurred, but the Lieutenant who ordered the relocation overruled the Sergeant and the protestors. The black inmates were then forcibly “relocated” to the Nortenos’ area.
The stage for a riot was set because the officer, who should have known better, ignored the warnings of big trouble if these inmates were moved to the “Nortenos” turf. As predicted, a huge fight broke out. Even the inmate in the wheelchair was beaten but not severely enough to be sent to the hospital.
Others inmates were not so lucky. Several inmates required treatment for cuts and bruises and one was shot by a Correctional Officer from the tower. That inmate’s hip was shattered and he is still in a Reno hospital. It is thought that he will more than likely lose the use of his leg. The damage is so severe that the Doctors will not attempt any more reconstructive surgery because of the risk of clots and infection. The damage is too extensive for repair. It is possible he may die.
It is said the man was shot was because he refused to stop “stomping” another inmate who was down and couldn’t defend himself.
The inmate that he was “stomping” was one of the men that attacked him so he probably felt he was acting in self-defense. We are told that prison rules state that if an inmate continues to assault another inmate after being ordered to stop he may be fired upon with lethal force. Apparently, he was ordered to stop but did not.
Now, if he lives, he will be crippled and may be sentenced to a very long prison term, which is ironic because only three months of his original term remained. His case may hinge upon the claim that he was ordered to stop.
The other black inmates involved are filing a lawsuit against the Department for not heeding their warnings about the move.
Assuming that is true, it remains to be seen whether the Office of Internal Affairs serves a complaint on the Lieutenant. For that to happen, citizens (includes inmates) must file a Citizen Complaint, requiring an investigation take place, or a Grand Jury Complaint may be filed.