California prison guard who killed inmate sentenced to 12 years behind bars

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SACRAMENTO — A California correctional officer was sentenced Monday to more than 12 years in federal prison for causing the death of an inmate in 2016 and spraying another because he thought it was “funny.”

Arturo Pacheco, 40, was escorting a 65-year-old inmate whose hands were handcuffed behind him when he ripped off the inmate’s legs from beneath him. The inmate landed face down on the concrete floor, breaking his jaw and several teeth. He was being treated in a hospital two days later when he died of a pulmonary embolism.

Four months earlier, Pacheco had pepper sprayed a “calm and docile” 54-year-old prisoner at close range, leaving him temporarily blind. He later called the incident “funny” in a text message, according to a plea deal Pacheco reached in July.

Pacheco was sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison. He pleaded guilty in July to two counts of deprivation of rights under cover of the law and two counts of falsifying records for his attempts to cover up the abuses.

He apologized during his sentencing and fought back tears, the Sacramento Bee reported.

“I have tremendous remorse, your honor,” Pacheco told the judge.

US Attorney Phillip Talbert said the sentence shows that guards who harm inmates “are not above the law”.

Pacheco was fired from California State Prison, Sacramento, in 2018. A second corrections officer who was also fired in 2018 had previously pleaded guilty to submitting a false report about Pacheco’s actions.

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