By New Times
By Connor Radnovich
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Ray Stern
By Keegan Hamilton
By Matthew Hendley
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
The Tasers, pepper balls, mace, and "stun shield" were all deployed during the first of Farias' three brawls with guards.
The jail video given to New Times begins after that incident. It shows Farias' second altercation with guards, when two guards used their knees to pin him face-down on the floor, while another two held his legs. Those guards cut Farias' clothes off and left him naked in an isolation cell.
The guards strapped a mask over Farias' face, cuffed his hands behind his back, and shackled his legs. Farias then rolled around the isolation cell for about an hour and a half — unable to stand, at first, and then bumping up against the walls once he did stand.
Next, the video shows 11 guards move Farias to the third cell — where he stopped breathing, according to officer accounts. When the guards carried Farias into that cell, they walked off-screen, and the next time Farias appeared onscreen, he was being wheeled out on a stretcher.
In contradiction to a number of other guards, one guard told detectives that Farias was already bleeding from his mouth when he was thrown into the second of the three cells. Officers wiped up the blood with a towel.
Officers also removed a bloodstained mattress from Farias' first cell, they admit in reports. Inmates additionally reported that trusties were sent to clean the first cell up just 10 minutes after the altercation — before jail investigators could document the scene.
Because the general-population cells were on lockdown during the first altercation with Farias, only two inmates had a view of the incident. The final two altercations happened in isolation units, so no inmates saw what happened to Farias.
In separate interviews, the two inmates who saw Farias' first altercation echoed what jail guards described. But the inmates added a number of details that guards left out, including descriptions of guards "elbow-striking" Farias and "high-fiving" one another.
Inmate Shawn Kirkpatrick "said the officer shot the man in the cell 'at least 20 times' with the pepper-ball gun. He said that a Taser was then used against the inmate, and then a canister of mace was used," detectives wrote.
"Kirkpatrick said an electric riot shield was brought in . . . He said they started hitting the man while he was handcuffed. Kirkpatrick said the officers were then 'high-fiving' each other like it was the thing to do. He said a hood was placed on the man's head and he was carried from the pod."
Another inmate, in a separate interview, offers the same story. Louis Deangelo told detectives, "The man was brought out and put face-down on the ground in front of the cell door. Deangelo said that several officers hit the Mexican guy with elbow-strikes. He said when the officers got up several of them were giving each other 'high fives' and laughing . . . Deangelo said while the incident was going on, several of the inmates were yelling at the officers to quit because the Mexican guy was handcuffed."
Inmate John Michael Reed couldn't see into Farias' cell, but he could hear officers "laughing" as they sprayed pepper balls at Farias. Reed could also see the ground in front of Farias' cell, once guards pulled him outside.
"John stated there were three officers on each side of the inmate and were holding him by his clothes face-down as they took him out of the pod. John stated as the officers were taking him out of the pod that the inmate was not fighting or resisting with the officers," detectives wrote.
Inmate Jesus Rodriguez said that Farias was shouting that he couldn't breathe under the officers' weight. "Upon being taken to the ground, Jesus advised that at least 8-9 officers were pinning the subject down to the ground. At that time, the subject was yelling in Spanish to get off of him and also that he could not breathe," detectives wrote.
"Jesus also stated that officers were banging the subject's head into the ground while he was pinned down . . . Shortly thereafter, he observed the subject being dragged out of the cell and down the stairs."
The autopsy photos of Farias' face make it clear that his nose and lips were slammed into a hard surface at some point during his jail stay.
The records produced by the sheriff include a number of redactions. Some pages are entirely blacked out.
The records also contradict the sheriff's reasons for initially withholding the records.
In August, Lieutenant Dot Culhane, the sheriff's legal liaison, told New Times the records couldn't be released because an "ongoing investigation" was under way. However, the records show that the most recent investigative movement was in March 2008, months before New Times' July request.
The records do not clarify whether the case was closed.
In September, after New Times filed a lawsuit to obtain the records, the sheriff's legal liaison claimed that releasing the videos of Farias might alter the memories of guards involved and, thus, compromise the investigation.
However, a review of the records shows that some of those guards watched the videos of Farias less than 24 hours after he died.