Young inmate describes guard attack to ABC7

November 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Security camera video nearly six years old shows a ward of a youth correctional facility being pummeled by a guard. And now a civil lawsuit resulting from that incident is set to go to trial. ABC7 spoke exclusively with the young man who is suing the guard.

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Some of the judges involved in the case have described the video as disturbing. At the time, Narciso Morales was 21 years old and had already served four years for a carjacking in the Chaderjian Youth Facility in Stockton.

Morales viewed the 55-second video along with ABC7. He said the incident started at a guard's office when counselor Delwin Brown asked him to sign a statement admitting he was a gang member.

"I refused to sign it because I am not a gang member," he said. "It started getting loud, you know, and cussing, and that's when he just lost it and hit me."

The altercation spilled out into the large day room. Another counselor subdued a 19-year-old who was also in the office. Then, you could see Brown struggle with Morales who was hit with pepper spray.

"That's when he just lets loose and he pounded me on my neck, my head, my face. He just starts whaling on me," said Morales. "He gave me punch after punch after punch."

Brown punched him 28 times. The pummeling continued despite no apparent resistance from Morales. He's then pepper sprayed again. Other counselors would later describe this as mutual combat.

Brown finally stopped when other employees rushed into the room. Morales said the guards continued the beating after he was cuffed and taken away.

"I was handcuffed, stripped down naked where they continued to beat me up even more, all in the body, nothing in the face," said Morales.

Some witnesses said Morales started the fight by throwing a punch at Brown. ABC7 obtained a photograph of a bloodied Brown taken after the incident, as well as a photograph of Morales lying in a pool of blood.

After the brawl, Brown and the other counselor who fought with a 19-year-old were fired for using excessive force. Four other counselors were also dismissed for filing false incident reports.

"You've got officers who gave statements talking about that Morales, my client, was swinging wildly with closed fists to Brown's head area," said Morales' attorney Joe Carcione. "Preposterous. You look at the videotape, it's the other way around."

But last year, after years of legal wrangling, an appeals court cleared the six counselors, saying the video did not show everything.

The attorney who represents Brown and the other five declined to appear on camera.

"I do not believe it is appropriate for attorneys to try cases in the media. I will say that there are things that occurred during the incident that are not depicted in the video and I am confident that when all the facts are presented at trial, my clients will be completely vindicated," said Browns' defense attorney James Henderson.

Brown and four of the other counselors were all re-hired; one left correctional work. Brown, in fact, was promoted to senior counselor.

Morales was released two years ago and he's married with a daughter.

The trial is scheduled at the end of this month in San Joaquin County.

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