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Old 07-22-2004, 03:42 PM
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sunkissed sunkissed is offline

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Default Guards tell of prison assault

Guards tell of prison assault
The Sac Bee
4 officers testify that their supervisor beat a Folsom inmate.
By Ramon Coronado -- Bee Staff Writer
Thursday, July 22, 2004

Despite being labeled a "rat" by co-workers for testifying against one of their own, Folsom prison officers described in Sacramento Superior Court how their supervisor beat and dragged a shackled inmate in a fit of anger."In the eyes of many they see it as officers against inmates and that I've sided with the inmates," Folsom corrections officer Joseph Caldero said.

Caldero is one of four officers who testified against Stephen Luke Scarsella, a 46-year-old former lieutenant charged with filing a false police report, committing battery as a police officer against an inmate and assault with force likely to cause great harm.

Scarsella and former Sgt. Richard Neal Saunders were indicted by the Sacramento County grand jury early last year in closed-door proceedings usually reserved for politically sensitive cases where witnesses are reluctant to testify publicly because of fear of reprisals. Saunders pleaded guilty earlier this year to lesser charges to avoid trial.

Scarsella's trial, which began last week, involves what Deputy District Attorney Steve Secrest described to jurors as a "code of silence" that kept some officers from coming forward initially.

After reports were filed, supervisors sent what is known within the department as "fix-it tickets" to officers to give them the opportunity to change their initial reports, testimony showed.

Scarsella's lawyer, Paul Q. Goyette, maintains that the officers were not withholding information, but have instead made inconsistent observations of an otherwise legitimate use of force that took place in a short time and involved numerous witnesses.

If convicted, Scarsella, a 20-year veteran, could face four years in prison in the June 8, 2002, assault of inmate Mel Tyrone Edward, a convicted drug offender who is serving time for attempted robbery.

According to prosecution testimony, Edward was pepper-sprayed and yanked out of his cell by several officers and later dragged by Scarsella down a flight of steel-grate stairs.

Moments later, when Edward was on his abdomen on a gurney with his hands handcuffed behind his back and his legs secured with chains, Scarsella punched him twice in the face, three officers testified.

"I was shocked the lieutenant actually punched this guy," Caldero said.

Caldero, who was one of the officers who took Edward out of the cell, said the punching took place in an area visible to many inmates.

"Good. My Indian buddies saw that," Caldero quoted Edward as saying after the punching.

Another officer, David Matthews, who also assisted in taking Edward from his cell, said he heard the inmate and Scarsella exchanging insults.

"Hit me again. I need the money," Matthews testified he heard Edward tell Scarsella after the first punch.

Matthews, who described Scarsella's anger as so apparent his face was red, admitted in cross examination that he left out any reference to Scarsella's punching in his first report to supervisors. His immediate supervisor was Scarsella.

"It was not in my best interest to submit a report to incriminate the person I am reporting to," Matthews said.

"I have been subjected to an incredible amount of intimidation," Matthews said of his testimony.

Officer Brian Moltzen said he and other officers told Scarsella to stop while he was dragging the inmate down the stairs, but that Scarsella didn't stop until he was halfway down the stairs.

Moltzen said he witnessed Scarsella hit the inmate with his right fist, while Matthews and Caldero said it was his left fist. Moltzen also said he was told then by Saunders not to file a report on witnessing the use of force against an inmate even though department policy required it.

"The next day I talked with Matthews and he said what he saw wasn't right," Moltzen said.

Saunders, who pleaded guilty to filing a false police report, was demoted to officer status. He was sentenced to 300 hours of community service and placed on 18 months' probation earlier this year.

Scarsella's version of the incident was that he was disciplining Edward for having threatened an officer the previous day. The inmate agreed to cooperate and was packing his belongings to be moved to segregation when he suddenly lunged at officers, Scarsella said.

After dousing the inmate with several cans of pepper spray, Scarsella said he could see that Edward, who has asthma, was having difficulty breathing so he ordered officers to carry him out to fresh air. He denied punching the inmate, describing his movement as an attempt to deflect Edward, who using his head to smash into Scarsella's hands.

Testimony resumes this morning before Judge Cheryl Chun Meegan.

About the Writer
The Bee's Ramon Coronado can be reached at (916) 321-1191 or rcoronado@sacbee.com.
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Old 07-22-2004, 03:53 PM
Missouri Rose Missouri Rose is offline
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The inmate was "using his head to smash into Scarsella's hands"? Yeah right, and the world is flat too!
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Old 07-22-2004, 04:17 PM
Kittie Kittie is offline
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Default Say It Dosen't Exist

And they say the "Code of Silence" isn't in effect. Yah right, at least four officers told the truth. I'm sure they paid the price for coming forward.

Originally Posted by Missouri Rose
The inmate was "using his head to smash into Scarsella's hands"? Yeah right, and the world is flat too!
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Old 07-22-2004, 04:50 PM
toi_ama toi_ama is offline
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I really wish more would come forward to tell of these assaults on inmates. Family members who have been in tell me that what goes on in there perpetrated by some of the guards is sicker than a lot of the inmates are in there for.
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