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Officers allege retaliatory actions after inmate altercation

Two California corrections officers accused of perpetrating an inmate assault have been relieved of their duties by the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office. The two men, ages 28 and 30, lost their jobs after allegedly abusing an inmate who was facing allegations of rape and murder. Although law enforcement officials have supported the firings, family members of the officers say that the pair was fired after filing a complaint about unsafe conditions.

So far, both of the men have pleaded not guilty to charges of assault by a public officer in connection with the altercation. They could spend as long as three years in custody if convicted. Their next upcoming court date is scheduled for mid-May.

The two officers are accused of using excessive force when the alleged victim began to resist during a transfer from his holding cell. One of the men was able to wrestle that victim to the ground, though he quickly called for backup because he was struggling. The other defendant is accused of arriving on that scene and delivering three aggressive knee strikes to the victim's legs. The incident was caught on camera, and it lasted for approximately 15 seconds.

Witnesses to the incident said that the officers used appropriate force when subduing the victim. A sheriff's investigation, however, found that the pair used excessive force. That assertion came even after two California Highway Patrol officers who were witnesses to the incident have allegedly testified in court that they didn't believe the corrections officer had done anything wrong. However, the victim complained of pain in his upper body several days after the incident. He transported to the hospital, but it's not known if the victim was alleging that his pain or injuries were related to the incident with the corrections officers.

Even government employers have been known to retaliate against workers who are involved in filing a complaint about workplace safety or other concerns. California attorneys know that these employees have rights that should be protected in court and in the workplace. People should not lose their jobs if they follow workplace policy; these two men argue that their actions were correct, and they are supported by several other sources. An employment attorney may be able to help such victims learn more about their legal options after retaliatory actions such as a pay cut or wrongful termination.

Source: Santa Barbara Independent, "Sheriff Fires Jail Guards Accused of Assaulting Inmate" Tyler Haden, Apr. 10, 2014

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