Sheriff: Deputy deliberately burned inmate in jail mental health unit

The inmate had visible injuries and was provided medical attention

By Richard Winton
Los Angeles Times
SANTA ANA, Calif. — A sheriff's deputy is suspected of deliberately burning an inmate in the Orange County Jail's mental health section with hot water, Sheriff Don Barnes said Wednesday.

The deputy working in the mental health housing module at the jail's Intake Release Center was serving the inmate with a disciplinary notice for a jail rule violation when the incident allegedly occurred on April 1. according to Barnes.

The inmate refused to sign the notice and instead extended his arms through the open hatch on the door and then refused to bring them back inside his cell, preventing the deputy from securing the hatch, Barnes said.

"I am absolutely intolerant of this behavior," said Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes in a statement. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The department said the deputy left and returned with two other deputies and again directed the jail inmate to withdraw his arms.

"When the inmate refused, a deputy is suspected of throwing hot water on the inmate's arm. During a later security check, the inmate told another deputy that he was injured from the incident and requested medical assistance. The inmate had visible injuries and was provided medical attention," the department said in a statement.

The department the next day put the three deputies on administrative leave and launched a criminal investigation that led to the case submitted Wednesday to the Orange County district attorney's office.

"I am absolutely intolerant of this behavior," said Barnes in a statement. "Deputies working in the Orange County Jail are responsible for providing care and safety for the inmates in our custody, not causing harm or injury. Unfortunately, the actions of one can reflect on the many, but I want to make it clear that this is not indicative of the conduct of deputies inside the Orange County Jail."

Barnes said he expected the district attorney to review the case in a timely manner to determine if charges are warranted. In addition, the Sheriff's Department is continuing an administrative investigation to determine whether policy violations were committed.

The department did not identify the three deputies, citing state law personnel protection for police officers.

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