People — regardless of any mistakes they may have made in their past — should be able to feel safe in their settings, even if that setting is a state prison. Unfortunately, when law enforcement officials fail to take appropriate action to ensure inmate safety, lives could be lost. In fact, California recently settled a wrongful death lawsuit regarding a man who was discovered dead in his cell.
The alleged incident happened in Oct. 2017 and involved a 34-year-old inmate. He was reportedly questioned by correctional officers about a former cellmate’s alleged involvement with dealing drugs. The questioning reportedly occurred in the presence of the man’s cellmate at the time.
Though a lawsuit claims that law enforcement officers are well aware of the potential violence that can occur when cooperating witnesses are housed with suspects, the man was reportedly left unguarded in an unlocked cell. The day after the questioning took place, the man was discovered deceased, with 92 stab wounds. A representative for the man’s family claims that guards failed to view video footage that showed inmates beginning to plan the attack, including moving the alleged murder weapon from one area of the prison to another.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation declined to comment on the wrongful death case. However, it reportedly settled for just under $2 million. While the settlement will likely do little to reduce the grief created by the man’s death, it may provide the family with some comfort knowing that their decision to take legal action could potentially prevent others from experiencing the same grief in the future.