Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Lawsuit: MDC inmate hanged himself unnoticed by the staff

Copyright © 2021

The mother of a Bernalillo County prison inmate who fatally hanged himself in his cell in 2020 is suing the county and the prison’s former health care provider on suspicion that employee negligence contributed to his death.

The security video shows Ronny Pacheco, 34, 1 hour and 19 minutes, caught on a bed sheet before staff from the Bernalillo District Metropolitan Detention Center arrived in his cell, the suit claims.

Ronny Pacheco hanged himself fatally in 2020 in the Metropolitan Detention Center of the Bernalillo district.

The lawsuit also alleges that Pacheco’s mental health deteriorated rapidly during three days in solitary confinement. It is alleged that MDC and Centurion Detention Health Services LLC failed to provide mental health services even when the inmate sought help.

The lawsuit names Centurion and two Centurion employees as defendants.

Tia Bland, a Bernalillo County spokeswoman, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Al Park, a Centurion attorney, did not respond to voice and email messages asking for comments this week.

Centurion terminated its contract with Bernalillo County earlier this year more than a year earlier. The county now has a four-year contract with Corizon Health to provide health services to the MDC.

Pacheco is one of 13 MDC inmates who have died in custody since April 2020. Pacheco was one of two deaths from suicide.

The lawsuit alleges that two MDC corrections officers assigned to the unit by Pacheco failed to conduct the required animal welfare controls.

Pacheco lawyer Laura Schauer Ives said one of the officers was sleeping when Pacheco hanged himself.

“A (officer) slept and would have had a perfect view of (Pachecos) cell from her seat,” said Schauer Ives in a telephone interview.

“The other (officer) walked past Ronny’s cell at least twice after we believed he hanged himself,” she said.

A security video showed that the second officer looked at least twice into the window of Pacheco’s cell, but “did not confirm Ronny’s condition,” the lawsuit said.

At the time of his death on November 28, 2020, Pacheco had been held in solitary confinement for three days under the prison’s COVID-19 quarantine rules, the lawsuit said.

Pacheco was allowed a total of 2 hours and 49 minutes out of his cell during the three days he was detained, the lawsuit said.

It was said that he had not been out of his cell for 24 hours when he hanged himself.

His “serious mental health problems” worsened during his time in solitary confinement, the lawsuit said.

Schauer Ives said Pacheco asked correctional officers for help in the hours before he committed suicide.

“We were able to talk to other inmates who described how he screamed and begged for help and then suddenly fell silent,” Schauer told Ives.

“Anyone can deteriorate very quickly in solitary confinement,” she said. “It puts everyone under enormous psychological stress. It is therefore important to monitor people under these conditions. “

The lawsuit demands damages and costs in an indefinite amount.

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