Groups want attorney general to investigate patients Taser attacks

August 3, 2012 11:29:13 PM PDT
The fallout from a report by ABC7 News and California Watch about patients at the Sonoma County Developmental Center being attacked with a Taser is continuing. There is now a push for the state attorney general to step in and launch an investigation. It is the most recent of several demands for an outside investigation into how the care facility handled the incident.

Earlier this week, two state legislators called for an independent probe. Now, there is a letter to Attorney General Kamala Harris from The Arc, a respected advocate for the disabled, United Cerebral Palsy in California, and parents of patients at the Sonoma Developmental Center.

The letter says the Office of Protective Services, the center's in-house police department, failed to protect them and then covered up the atrocities.

"We are asking Attorney General Kamala Harris to take over the investigation and prosecution of this series of atrocities and torture at Sonoma Developmental Center," The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy in California Public Policy Director Greg deGeire said.

DeGeire says the OPS has a long history of incompetent investigations.

"OPS is made up of people who are not trained adequately, do not have the skills and backgrounds necessary in many cases to do their jobs," he said.

DeGeire says the Taser incident is another sad example.

Last September, the director of the center received a message on his answering machine. The anonymous caller said someone had a stun gun and was using it on patients.

The man was identified as psychiatric technician assistant Archie Millora. He worked at the center nearly 14 years.

Documents from the investigation reveal that officers confronted Millora the day after the phone call. They found the Taser in his car and a loaded Glock semi-automatic pistol plus a separate magazine with live rounds. Millora was placed on administrative leave but was never arrested.

A subsequent independent probe by the California Department of Public Health reveals that nurses examined and photographed patients in his care. They found suspicious abrasions on "the buttocks, thigh, arm and back" of 12 people. A forensic pathologist concluded that the marks were "strongly suggestive of electrical thermal burns," consistent with a Taser.

All of the reported victims have extreme difficulty communicating, but when questioned, one of them uttered the words "stun" and Millora's name which the incident report identified as "Staff A."

Millora was eventually fired.

ABC7 News tried to talk to Millora but he did not respond to requests for an interview.

Court records show in April, Millora pleaded no contest to misdemeanor possession of a loaded firearm. He got probation and a $190 fine in lieu of jail time.

But Millora was never charged with the reported stun gun assaults -- charges that if convicted, could have given him serious prison time.

The district attorney's ofiice told ABC7 News it only went after Millora on the gun charge because the OPS never referred the Taser assaults for criminal prosecution. ABC7 News has learned that the OPS decided to handle that case as an administrative matter even though two people gave police Millora's name (the anonymous tipster and a victim) and police only found one Taser, Millora's.

ABC7News' requests for interviews with the Department of Developmental Services and the OPS were denied. Millora also did not respond to a request for an interview.

A spokesperson for Harris said the office could not talk about the letter.


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