A follow-up to our in-depth investigation into a fight at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano.
A corrections officer faces felony charges after challenging an inmate to a fight. Now, we've learned five other employees have either been punished or fired, some for trying to help cover up the incident.
The fight in February 2011 left corrections officer Christopher Cruse bloodied and battered after inmate Frances Allen got the upper hand. Even though he agreed to the fight to settle a dispute, investigators say Cruse hatched an elaborate plot to frame the inmate.
Cruse resigned in lieu of being fired, but is set to be in court next week on six felony charges.
Now, five of Cruse's colleague at the Delano facility have been punished. An internal affairs investigation revealed there appeared to be a cover-up.
"It looked that way to us too, and that's why we took the adverse actions that we did with these employees," said Terry Thornton, Deputy Press Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
A sergeant ordered a corrections officer to scrub Officer Cruse's blood off the yard with a brush and bleach. And, another lieutenant said her report of the incident was erased from the prison computer.
"When you falsify records or are untruthful, it just goes against what being a sworn peace officer is all about," added Thornton.
Now, we've learned in the fallout, a correctional sergeant and two corrections officers were fired. But, after an appeal one of the officer's termination was modified to a two-year suspension without pay.
"The CDCR does no tolerate this type of behavior," said Thornton.
One correctional lieutenant and another officer had their salaries reduced.
Thornton declined to identify them, citing the peace officer's bill of rights. But, she did stress employees are given code of silence training. "Code of silence is something we do not tolerate because it can really lead to ridiculously stupid behavior like we saw here."