LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Two Nevada corrections officers facing charges with two others in connection with a prison riot last December are accused of using unnecessary force on an inmate, which led to the man losing consciousness, court documents said.
As the 8 News Now Investigators first reported, the Nevada Attorney General’s Office filed charges against Paul Bowerman, Brayan Lopez, Quentin Murphy and Timothy Smith, for the alleged incidents after a prison riot in December, which was first described by the Nevada Department of Corrections as a “disturbance.”
Inmates at the Southern Desert Correctional Center, a medium-security prison north of Las Vegas, caused a riot on Dec. 8. The department initially downplayed the incident when 8 News Now inquired about it, calling it a “group disturbance.”
While publicly the department claimed 20-to-25 inmates were responsible for what happened, the Investigators learned that internally, at least 40 inmates were direct participants, and the department had planned to move more than a hundred inmates to other institutions.
Investigator Vanessa Murphy learned inmates unlocked their own cells from the inside, refused orders, covered surveillance cameras, flooded the area with water and took control of an entire prison unit.
When officers were able to enter, they lined up in formation. The inmates mimicked the officers, with their own formation, some of them were armed with prison-made weapons such as shanks, threatening to kill the staff, Vanessa Murphy first reported. The ringleader was a known member of the white supremacist Aryan warrior gang.
Bowerman and Smith “were engaged in using force unnecessarily by willfully employing excessive and unauthorized force against [an inmate] when they extracted him from his housing cell,” court documents said. The inmate’s name is redacted in the documents the 8 News Now Investigators obtained.
Several videos show the inmate “laying on his stomach by the frame of the cell door,” the report said. As the inmate is pulled out of the cell, he is heard screaming. Bowerman is accused of then striking the inmate’s “body area.” Smith is accused of striking the inmate on his head, the report said.
“For a few seconds, [the inmate] stopped screaming as the officers continued striking him,” the report said. “[The inmate] started screaming, ‘Ahhh! My shoulder’s broken… oh god’” as you hear restraining being placed on [the inmate],” the report said.
As the inmate is escorted down a hallway, another camera captured blood coming from his nose, the report said. The inmate’s eye and forehead were also swollen, the report said.
Nearly a dozen officers were present and non-mentioned the use of force, the report said. In an interview with the inmate, investigators said the man told them he was hit in the head so hard he went unconscious for several seconds, the report said.
Bowerman and Smith declined to be interviewed, the report said.
Bowerman and Smith face charges of battery, inhumanity to a prisoner and oppression under the color of office with the use of physical force, records showed. They were issued summonses and were due in court in October.
William “Hutch” Hutchings stepped down from his position as warden of the Southern Desert Correctional Center on July 15, according to the department.
Hutchings was employed at the department since May of 2020, Deputy Director William Quenga wrote in an email to the I-Team in July. Quenga also wrote that “Warden Hutchings voluntarily resigned for personal reasons.”
Bowerman, Quintin Murphy and Smith were all on administrative leave as of last week. Lopez resigned in January, the spokesperson said.