ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A Metropolitan Detention Center correction’s officer has been suspended with pay after video showed him repeatedly punching an inmate who was down.
The officer claims he feared for his safety, but it’s not clear from the video how he was in danger.
Jail can be a rough place, and being a guard is dangerous work, but what happened at MDC this week raises questions about one guard’s behavior.
Metro Detention Center surveillance shows a corrections officer pummeling an inmate. It started when 38-year-old Mark Palacios used another inmate’s crutch to turn up the volume on the television.
Corrections officer Elijah Chavez claims the inmate “turned around and stepped back in a fighting stance with the crutch in the air,” but the camera didn’t catch that.
The officer sprayed Palacios with pepper spray, then you see him and the crutch fall to the ground. The panning camera caught glimpses of the officer kicking and punching Palacios.
Other inmates looked on and the camera finally locked in on officer Chavez throwing punch after punch, as Palacios blocked his face, crouched down against a wall.
So far, the corrections officer hasn’t been charged with any crimes. However, the inmate is charged with battery on a peace officer.
In his report the officer states, “Palacios was resistant, and tried grabbing my legs to take me down.” He said Palacios is a known gang member, and “I felt I was in the RCM survival mode and began striking prisoner Palacios with a closed hand in the upper back and head area.”
At one point, the officer backed away, but then continued to punch and push the inmate.
Other guards eventually entered the room and a female sergeant sprayed another round of pepper spray in the inmates face as he lay on the ground.
The officer tired out, wiped the sweat off his brow, and Palacios, bloodied and beaten, was escorted out.
It’s not clear if the guard will face any charges. The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s office said the deputy that charged the inmate with battery likely didn’t watch the video.
MDC officials said they won’t comment until the investigation is complete.
Palacios has a long criminal record, including battery and burglary. After the fight, he was seen by medical staff, but there’s no word on the extent of his injuries.