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Thursday, May 8, 2014

California faces new lawsuit over pepper spraying of mentally ill prisoner

SacbeeState corrections officials are facing a new legal challenge over their use of pepper spray to control mentally ill inmates.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento seeks compensatory and punitive damages from Jeffrey Beard, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabiliation, and other prison officials over the July 2012 use of pepper spray against inmate Jermaine Padilla.

Padilla, a 33-year-old Ventura County man, was about seven months into a 10-month sentence on a parole violation when he was pepper-sprayed while being housed in a mental health crisis bed unit at Corcoran State Prison, the lawsuit states.

Padilla’s mental condition had been steadily deteriorating at the time, and he told prison staffers he was hearing voices and “Barack Obama was talking to him,” according to the suit, which was filed by Oakland attorney Lori Rifkin.

Prison staffers decided Padilla needed to be taken out of his cell and forced to take emergency medication, but he refused to voluntarily submit to being handcuffed and removed. continue reading...

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