2 ex-California prison guards indicted in inmate’s death

SACRAMENTO, Calif.

Two former California state prison guards were charged Thursday with trying to cover up an attack by one officer that caused the death of an inmate.

A federal grand jury in Sacramento indicted Arturo Pacheco, 38, for deprivation of rights under color of law and falsifying records in a federal investigation.

Ashley Marie Aurich, 31, another state correctional officer, also was charged with falsifying records.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether they had attorneys to speak for them.

Pacheco and Aurich were escorting a 65-year-old inmate at California State Prison, Sacramento on Sept. 15, 2016, when the man stopped walking. Pacheco bent down behind the man and pulled his legs out from under him, the indictment alleged.

The inmate, whose hands were cuffed behind him, fell forward, struck his head on the concrete and died about two days later at a hospital, the indictment said.

Pacheco and Aurich, who also was escorting the man, then allegedly made false reports on the incident.

Pacheco also is accused of pepper-spraying a “calm and compliant” prisoner in the face in May of 2016, leaving him temporarily blind. Pacheco also submitted a false report on that incident, according to the indictment.

Court records cited by the Sacramento Bee said that Pacheco and Aurich falsely reported that the inmate who died had broken his grip on Pacheco’s arm by spinning and lunging forward.

The indictment alleged that in reporting the May incident involving a 54-year-old inmate, Pacheco falsely claimed the man had a piece of glass and refused to drop it.

“Pacheco, abused his position of authority to harm an inmate,” U.S. Attorney Scott said in a statement. “Instead of upholding and enforcing the law, he went on to conceal his actions and asked others to assist him.”

The two guards were dismissed from their jobs in 2018 after the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation substantiated allegations of “misconduct and dishonesty,” the department said in a statement reported by the Bee.

“CDCR has a zero-tolerance policy for any form of dishonesty,” the statement said.