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Inmate sues Utah County Jail after correction officers shoot him with a rubber pellet shotgun

Posted at 5:51 PM, Jan 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-03 23:50:55-05

(KSTU) — In a body cam video from June 2017, we saw five correction officers approaching the cell of 32-year-old Luis Prado. He was being held in the mental health unit of the Utah County Jail after being arrested for assault.

"He was alone his cell, unarmed, and he was no threat to anybody," said Robert Sykes, Prado's attorney.

Jail reports indicate the officers were moving Prado to another cell in order to clean his. The report said Prado was non-compliant and threatened to "stab all deputies in the eyes and remove their eyeballs."

Later the video shows Deputy Jason Hindes stick the barrel of his shotgun through the small opening of Prado's cell. Hindes shoots Prado in the leg with rubber pellets at close range.

"Yes, action needed to be taken. Nobody's going to dispute that his behavior was inappropriate, but he did not warrant the response that he received," said Chris Burbank, former Salt Lake City Police Chief.

This is why Prado filed a lawsuit against the jail Wednesday. Burbank said the officers should have reasoned with Prado longer, and used less invasive options first, like pepper spray, which was later used to detain him.

"About six minutes to get compliance from the time they used the spray, that's all it took," Sykes said. "And he was quite compliant. You saw that."

Officers, on the other hand, said force was needed, stating in a report, "He did have some sharpened pencils in the cell and he may have had a razor blade."

But Sykes said Prado deserves compensation since the incident caused Prado significant damage.

"There were several pellets that were left in his body for a long time," Sykes said. "It got infected, and they had to take him to the hospital to do minor surgery to get them out."

Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith reached out to us saying, "We are aware of the incident involving Mr. Prado. It was investigated by an outside agency, and an internal investigation was done as well. We have taken appropriate corrective action, but we disagree with the statements made by Mr. Prado's attorney."

We asked Smith what corrective action was taken. He has not yet gotten back to us.

You can read more of the statements made by Prado's attorney, as well as view the body cam footage, in this article. Please be advised the video and some accompanying photos contain graphic content.