Detention center incident on tape

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Surveillance video viewed by investigators does not support allegations a detention officer caused head injuries to an inmate at the Curry County Jail Monday, officials said.

During a disruption in a pod at the jail, inmate Benito Valdez violently resisted guards when asked to relinquish a broom, Curry County Undersheriff Wesley Waller said Wednesday.

“At that point, pepper spray was used and the broom was removed, then (Valdez) was escorted through the facility,” Waller said.

“The video does not support the allegation (of abuse made by Valdez).”

Valdez was one of several inmates who had been told to clean up the pod after inmates intentionally flooded a toilet, Waller said.

“(Valdez) had been asked to assist with the cleanup, but by the video, that’s not what he was doing. He was (acting in an inappropriate manner),” Waller said.

Waller said the investigation is ongoing and a report will be submitted to the district attorney’s office for review.

No one has been charged in connection with the incident, Waller said.

Teresita Valdez, the 18-year-old’s mother, said Tuesday her son told her a guard sprayed him with mace and then opened doors by slamming his head into them.

She said her son told her his ear was split open and his head was throbbing.

Jail officials said Tuesday Valdez received medical treatment and was being held in isolation.

Jail administrators have not taken disciplinary action against any officers for the incident, Chief Deputy Warden Audrey Barriga said.

“We deal with the inmate according to the behavior. If an inmate refuses to comply with a direct order, we try to talk them through it,” Barriga said Tuesday.

Valdez is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to intentional child abuse resulting in the death of his 4-month-old son.