A procession was held Monday for fallen 56-year-old Correctional Officer Armando Gallegos.
It happens roughly once every three years in California – inmates kill a prison employee. Since 1952, inmates have killed 20 male employees in the California State Prison System. The last one happened in 2005. But it hasn’t happened at Kern Valley State Prison. That is until potentially now, with the passing of Kern Valley State Prison Officer Armando Gallegos.
“It really touches me because I was the front entrance officer at KVSP in 2005 when Officer Gallegos showed up,” said Steve McClaren, a retired CDCR Officer who worked with Gallegos for five years.
“I affectionately called him ‘Big G,'” McClaren told 17 News.
After nearly 13 years in the department, Gallegos was brutally attacked by 12 inmates at Kern Valley State Prison in April. Beaten so viciously he suffered a broken vertebrae, a broken nose and a concussion. Injuries he spent the past five months trying to overcome.
But on Friday evening, Sept. 14, Gallegos passed away.
Monday, more than 60 vehicles followed Gallegos in a multi-agency procession from the Kern County Coroner’s Office to the Salser & Dillard Funeral Chapel in Visalia. And while the official cause of Gallegos’s death has not yet been released, The California Correctional Peace Officers Association is calling it murder.
“This is something that just doesn’t happen in the Department of Corrections. Or it shouldn’t happen in the Department of Corrections,” McClaren said, echoing the sentiment of many who are feeling this loss.
And McClaren is right – it shouldn’t, but it does. This sort of violence simply isn’t an isolated incident. If the coroner deems Gallegos’s death a murder by inmates, it will be the 21st time this has happened within The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) since 1952.
CDCR has recommended that seven of the dozen inmates involved in the April 21 attack be charged with attempted homicide. Whether his attackers will face additional charges, we won’t know until the official cause of Gallegos’ death has been determined.