Nevada inmate’s lawyer says cover-up attempted in deadly 2014 prison shooting

CARSON CITY — Nevada prison personnel implicated in the shooting death of a handcuffed inmate pointed the finger at another restrained prisoner who was wounded in the gunfire just hours after the 2014 incident unfolded, according to documents obtained by the Review-Journal.

Administrative charges of murder, assault and battery were leveled against Andrew Arevalo less than seven hours after a correctional officer trainee opened fire on Arevalo and Carlos Perez.

Arevalo’s lawyer, Alexis Plunkett, maintains the administrative charges were trumped up to try to hide what really happened.

“There was no question that Andrew had not committed any kind of murder,” Plunkett said. “There was certainly zero evidence to show that Andrew had killed anyone.

“They knew exactly what happened and they knew what they were trying to cover up.”

Arevalo, 25, was wounded when Raynaldo-John Ramos fired a shotgun four times after a fight broke out in a segregation unit hallway at High Desert State Prison, about 40 miles north of Las Vegas near Indian Springs on Nov. 12, 2014, according to court documents.

Perez, 28, was killed, though the fact he was shot was not revealed until four months later when the Clark County coroner’s office ruled his death a homicide.

The shooting happened in an area known as “the hole,” where inmates are to be kept separated for security or their own protection. The inmates, wearing boxers and handcuffed behind their backs, were being returned to their cells from a shower.

Arevalo claims he was attacked from behind when both were let out into a hallway at the same time. The two brawled on the floor, kicking at each other.

Las Vegas attorney Cal Potter, in a Perez suit, said the officers created a “gladiator-style scenario” and didn’t intervene to stop them.

Court documents unsealed this week in the federal wrongful death lawsuit filed by Perez’s family put much of the blame for the death on former correctional officers Jeff Castro and Isaiah Smith.

State investigators said Castro failed to follow prison protocol by allowing the two inmates out of their cells at the same time and not properly escorting them from a shower area to their cells. A report said those failings led to the use of force resulting in the hospitalization of one inmate and death of another.

At one point, Castro left the fighting inmates while he went to get a pair of gloves.

Investigators said Smith was aware Castro repeatedly moved multiple inmates at the same time but failed to report it, “leading to a security breach which led to an inmate’s death.”

Castro and Smith resigned May 1.

Ramos, who was still on probation, was terminated. But his report, written in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and signed by a supervisor, Sgt. Marc Sydiongco, was used as the basis to administratively charge Arevalo for the death. The notice of charges was logged into a computer at 2:23 a.m. Nov. 13, 2014, just hours after the 8 p.m. incident, documents show.

“I really do feel like NDOC (Nevada Department of Corrections) thought he was going to die and this was a premeditated attempt to try to cover this up,” Plunkett said.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office said Thursday it would have no comment.

According to the records, an administrative preliminary hearing was held Dec. 3, at which Arevalo was given a Miranda warning based on the officer’s statement.

Administrative charges affect an inmate’s good time credits and other privileges. Hearings are conducted by prison officers. Arevalo was convicted of the charges at a Jan. 26, 2015, hearing and cautioned he could face criminal charges.

Plunkett filed an appeal on Arevalo’s behalf, arguing he did not kill Perez and therefore could not be found guilty of murder. She also claimed he acted in self-defense.

In mid-April 2015, Dwight Neven, High Desert warden, said there was sufficient evidence supporting the charges, but he overturned the murder and assault charges.

“The officer’s report is clear and indicates that inmate Arevalo continued to fight and kick inmate Perez, despite numerous verbal warnings to stop,” Neven wrote in a memo issued about three weeks after the shooting was made public.

“Whether or not inmate Perez was the initial aggressor … Arevalo’s actions also contributed to this incident as he continued to yell and kick inmate Perez.”

Arevalo is serving two to six years in prison on a 2013 burglary conviction in Las Vegas. He was transferred to Ely State Prison, Nevada’s only maximum security penitentiary, where death row inmates are housed, in the fall and has been kept in segregation for the past two years, Plunkett said.

Ramos and the two officers are being provided private counsel paid for by the state to represent them in the two civil lawsuits. The attorney general’s office is representing the state and prison administrators, including former Director Greg Cox, Neven and other officers.

In declarations filed last week with a motion to dismiss the Perez case, both Cox and Neven asserted they were not present at High Desert when the incident occurred and they did not direct or condone the actions of the officers.

They further said that while they oversee the safety, security and management of facilities, they delegate “down the chain of command” responsibilities to ensure protocols and procedures are carried out.

Cox was forced out of his job in September by Gov. Brian Sandoval following a series of nonfatal shootings at state prisons and his failure to deliver a report on time concerning use of force at correctional facilities.

Contact Sandra Chereb at or 775-461-3821. Find @SandraChereb on Twitter.

North Las Vegas Water Meters
Randy DeVaul shows off the new water meters that the city is installing.
Project 150 Thanksgiving 2018
About 100 volunteers for Project 150 box Thanksgiving meals for high school students and their families in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Three Square’s Maurice Johnson Talks About Food Waste
Three Square’s director of operations Maurice Johnson talks about food waste.
Parade preparation nears completion
Downtown Summerlin prepares for its annual holiday parade.
Clark County Wetlands promotes 2019 Wetland Walker Program
This year the park will be celebrating the Northern Flicker. The program is designed to teach about that bird, and encourage people to visit the Wetlands and walk the same distance the bird migrates each year.
Poet’s Walk Henderson introduces storytelling
Residents enjoy a storytelling activity.
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
16-year-old shot in North Las Vegas
A 16-year-old was hospitalized but was expected to survive after a shooting in North Las Vegas, near Centennial Parkway and Fifth Street, on Tuesday, November 13, 2018. North Las Vegas police spokesman Aaron Patty gives an update. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
3-year-old boy shot in North Las Vegas
North Las Vegas Police Officer Aaron Patty talks about an accidental shooting that left a 3-year-old boy “fighting for his life” on Nov. 10, 2018.
Senior Citizen Carjacking Attack -- 3 Suspects Sought
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police detectives are seeking the public's assistance in identifying the three attackers who carjacked and beat a 78-year-old man near Fremont and east Charleston on Tuesday. (LVMPD)
Henderson Police Department Chief Latesha Watson Talks Change
11-year-old girl shot, killed in North Las Vegas
An 11-year-old girl is dead after she was struck by gunfire Thursday night during a shooting in North Las Vegas
North Las Vegas police on deadly shooting
North Las Vegas police spokesman Eric Leavitt briefs the media about a shooting that left an 11-year-old girl dead on Nov. 1, 2018. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stephan Bonnar DUI Arrest
Stephan Bonnar arrested for DUI in Nevada.
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss. Susan Nash, 52, was killed in a shooting along with her daughter and one of her three sons on Sunday night. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Sayegh Cold Case Turns 40
Cary Sayegh was abducted from the playground of the Albert Einstein Hebrew Day School in Las Vegas in 1978. His body has never been found. (File Photo)
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vehicle of Interest in January Homicide
Las Vegas police released footage Friday of a “vehicle of interest” from a deadly shooting in January. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Hostage escapes clutches of robber before shooting
Metropolitan Police Department footage shows a man wearing a motorcycle helmet, identified by police as 27-year-old Mario B. Trejo, with one arm wrapped around a woman’s neck and held a handgun to her head.
Sunset Park Vigil
A small group of people gathered in Sunset Park to remember the three children recently killed in the area.
Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like