A former prison guard trainee was charged with involuntary manslaughter on Monday by the Nevada state attorney general. The guard, Reynaldo-John Ramos had been accused of killing Carlos Perez Jr. with a shotgun while he was in handcuffs in November 2014.
If found guilty of both felony charges, Ramos could face nine years in prison.
Ramos was also charged with reckless disregard resulting in death. Fired from the Nevada Department of Corrections in April 2015, Ramos is the first former Nevada prison guard to be charged in an inmate shooting since 2007. The last guard to stand trial, Paul Chaffee, worked at the same prison as Ramos, High Desert State Prison. He was acquitted of battery with a deadly weapon at his 2008 trial in Las Vegas.
Two other guards who were on duty during the lethal shooting of Carlos Perez Jr. resigned in May 2015. Jeff Castro and Isaiah Smith weren’t charged by the attorney general, but were found by prison officials to have neglected their duties and made false statements.
While Ramos fired the shotgun which killed Perez, Perez’s family attorney Cal Potter believes that Carlos is largely to to blame for the shooting, for pitting Perez against another inmate and then neglecting to chaperone Perez out of the shower while Arevalo was in the hallway of the showers.
Potter called the criminal charge against Ramos on Monday a “half cup of justice” because neither of the two officers who engaged in a “gladiator-like scenario” by staging a fight between inmates Carlos Perez Jr. and Andrew Arevalo were charged.
“It’s interesting they charged only the trainee and not the ones who were doing the training and stood by and did nothing to stop it,” Potter said. He noted also that no one was charged with shooting Arevalo.
Arevalo was shot in the face but survived the shooting. In a lawsuit against the officers, the state, the prison warden and administrators, and the former Department of Corrections Direction Greg Cox, Potter alleges that Castro and Smith allowed the two inmates to fight and then ordered the trainee Ramos to shoot at them.
When Arevalo and Perez were found lying on the ground by a senior correctional officer, both were handcuffed. 45 minutes later Perez was declared deceased. It then took four months for prison officials to admit that Perez was killed in a homicide, by the bullets of a staff member.