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Death of inmate at Calif. prison under investigation after use of force incident

Prison officials were called to a “disturbance” in a housing unit at New Folsom when the inmate “charged and began to hit staff;" COs then began to restrain the inmate

California State Prison, Sacramento

A guard tower overlooks California State Prison, Sacramento, in Folsom last month.

Paul Kitagaki Jr./TNS

By Ishani Desai
The Sacramento Bee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California State Prison, Sacramento, inmate died Friday after he lost consciousness when guards pinned him to the ground to restrain him during an attack, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Prison officials were called about 6:55 p.m. Friday to a “disturbance” in a housing unit at New Folsom when inmate Christopher Leong “charged and began to hit staff,” a news release said. It was unclear if Leong was involved in the disturbance or what sparked it.

In an attempt to subdue Leong, guards began to restrain him. CDCR officials did not say how many guards attempted to restrain him but said 10 staff members suffered minor injuries in the incident.

“Officers attempted to put him in physical restraints, and he continued to lash out and spit at officers,” the news release said. “Eventually, officers used physical force to pin him to the ground.”

Leong lost consciousness and stopped breathing, CDCR said. Prison officials began to render medical aid and the Folsom Fire Department responded to the medical emergency.

Paramedics pronounced him dead at 7:50 p.m., CDCR said. The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office will determine Leong’s cause of death.

The Sacramento District Attorney’s Office, CDCR’s Deadly Force investigation team and the state’s Office of the Inspector General will each conduct investigations into the death.

Whether any staffers at the 1,828-capacity prison, one of three on the Represa grounds, were disciplined or placed on administrative leave was not disclosed.

CDCR officials did not respond to questions but said the incident was under investigation.

Leong was sentenced in Sacramento County in May 2011 to a life sentence with the possibility of parole for second-degree attempted murder, which included enhancements for committing the crime as part of a street gang and using a gun.

He was one of two men tied to the attempted drive-by killing of a man after shooting at his vehicle and into an apartment where he hid on Dewey Boulevard and Falconer Way in the Lemon Hill section of south Sacramento.

A jury determined Leong, a member of the Norteño criminal street gang, had pulled the trigger based on the victim’s identification of Leong.

He had been incarcerated at New Folsom since June 2011. His accomplice Juan Carlos Carranco Jr. remains incarcerated at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano following his conviction in the case.

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