Sister of slain inmate sues Las Vegas police department


The sister of a man who was killed in his cell at the Clark County Detention Center last month is suing the Metropolitan Police Department for more than $10 million.

A civil rights lawsuit filed in federal court late Thursday alleged that jailers failed in their duty to house Francesco Sanfilippo safely when they locked him up with Carl Guilford, an 18-year-old with "serious mental health needs and a propensity for violence."

Lawyer Brent Bryson filed the complaint on behalf of Sanfilippo's sister, Susanne Zeigler.

The lawsuit also named Guilford and Naphcare Inc., an Alabama-based company that provides medical services to those jailed at the detention center, as defendants in the case.

At his Charleston Boulevard law office on Friday, Bryson said corrections officers "deliberately ignored the risk" Guilford posed to other inmates.

"They have facilities, they have special cells at the detention center that Mr. Guilford should have been housed in, given the symptomatology that he presented," which included hearing voices that encouraged violence toward others, Bryson said.

Bryson added that Guilford was refusing to take medication prescribed to him to treat his mental illness at the time of Sanfilippo's death.

The detention center has a section devoted to inmates with mental health issues.

Putting a violent offender with a history of mental illness in with a nonviolent offender made for a "predictable" outcome, Bryson said.

A Police Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Police have said a classification system helped them determine that Guilford should be segregated from the general population but could be housed with Sanfilippo, 29, who was facing 13 counts of possession of child pornography and a drunken-driving case. Authorities are reviewing the classification system to determine whether anything should have been done differently.

A corrections officer found the inmates' cell bloodied during a routine check about 1 a.m. on July 29. Guilford was sitting on the top bunk with a "blank stare."

According to a police report detailing Sanfilippo's slaying, Guilford initially told homicide detectives that a fight between the two ensued after Sanfilippo grabbed Guilford's buttocks and said, "I'm going to take that."

Guilford said he didn't remember what happened next, but police said Guilford beat Sanfilippo in the head and stabbed him with a pencil. Guilford then changed his story "and said that the devil told him that he needed to kill Sanfilippo, or he would make him kill himself."

Guilford was in jail after his May 26 arrest on murder charges in connection with the suffocation of his 6-year-old cousin. A comforter was used to quiet the cousin and prevent him from waking the boy's mother at their Desert Inn Road apartment. Guilford told police he heard the devil's voice tell him "well done" as he left the room.

The 18-year-old's mother told investigators her son is bipolar and talked openly with family members about angels and demons and had mentioned "making sacrifices."

Since Sanfilippo's death, a state court judge has ordered Guilford to Lake's Crossing, the state's mental health facility, for competency evaluation.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

 

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