News Releases

Battery on a Peace Officer at High Desert State Prison during an inmate riot

Susanville – On Monday, August 21, 2012, at approximately 1:45 p.m., High Desert State Prison (HDSP), Facility C Yard #1, had 2 African American inmates engage in a fist fight.  The yard was ordered down and all inmates complied, including the 2 African American inmates involved in the fight.  Due to the location of the fight the initial responders, approximately 12, ordered a number of inmates to move out of the response path.  Two of the inmates being moved were Southern Hispanic inmates.  They were slow to comply with staff’s orders and move out of the way so staff could safely advance to the incident.  The 2 African American inmates involved in the fight were removed from the yard without incident. 
Prior to the yard resuming, 2 Officers and a Sergeant went over to remove the Southern Hispanic inmates from the yard.  One inmate was ordered to stand up to be escorted off of the yard and he stood up and faced one of the Officers.  The Officer ordered the Southern Hispanic inmate to turn around and submit to a clothed body search; the inmate refused.  The inmate also refused orders to submit to handcuffs. The Officer then ordered the inmate to lie down on the ground and the inmate struck the Officer in the face, with his fist.  The other Officer utilized his physical strength to force the inmate to the ground and injured his shoulder taking the inmate down. 
At the same time, 7 other Southern Hispanic inmates to the left of the officers, jumped up and attacked staff.  Then, a group of Southern Hispanics on the right and a group of Southern Hispanics from behind jumped up and ran for the staff line that had 5 staff members left.  There were 42 Southern Hispanics on the yard and they all charged the skirmish line, from 3 directions. 
Due to the prior incident, secondary response was located just outside of the facility gate and they entered Facility C Yard #1.  The 8 staff members on the yard were assaulted and utilized O.C. pepper spray, batons, C.N. and physical force, as well as a 40MM loaded with XM-1006 Direct Impact Sponge rounds.  The Officer with the 40MM fired 16, XM-1006 rounds into the advancing Southern Hispanic inmates.  Responding staff forced the Southern Hispanics back an additional 2 times.  In all, the Southern Hispanics charged the staff line 3 times. 
Due to the magnitude of the incident and the reasonable belief that the incident would result in great bodily injury or death, the C-2 Control Booth Officer fired 2 warning shots from his state-issued Mini-14 rifle into the C Facility Gym wall.  In addition to the Mini-14, there were multiple less lethal force options used by multiple staff members. 
All injured staff and inmates were taken to the Correctional Treatment Center (CTC) and 7 staff members and 1 inmate were transported to Banner Lassen Medical Center where they were treated and released for minor injuries. 
The case is under investigation by the Lassen County District Attorney’s Office and the Investigative Services Unit at HDSP.  The Office of the Inspector General’s Bureau of Independent review was notified.
High Desert State Prison, located in Lassen County, opened in 1995 and houses 3,696 minimum-, medium-, and maximum-custody inmates. The institution provides academic classes and vocational instruction and employs more than 1,275 people.

August 21, 2012
Contact: Lt. Nick Albonico
(530) 251-5100