DISTRACTION FREES INMATE DEPUTY VIEWING ADULT SITES LED TO PRISONER'S ESCAPE.
VALENCIA - A sheriff's deputy was viewing porn on a hospital computer when an injured inmate escaped his guard last year and fled into a Valencia neighborhood where he beat an elderly man, according to an annual report issued this week by the county Office of Independent Review.
The deputy, who was not named, was fired following the October 2004 incident at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital.
The deputy told investigators that his charge, Samuel Alvarado, then 19, had gone to the bathroom in the hospital's emergency room, then shoved a walker toward him and fled. Asking for help from hospital personnel, he tried to follow Alvarado, the review quotes the deputy as telling investigators.
But Alvarado told a different story after he was recaptured, and hospital staffers backed his version, according to the independent review by OIR Chief Attorney Michael Gennaco.
``He claimed that, upon leaving the bathroom, he observed that the deputy was preoccupied with a computer that was in the room,'' the report said. ``He took the opportunity to gather some of his own effects and slip out without the deputy even noticing. Then he fled out of the hospital through an alarmed door.''
Hospital staffers told sheriff's internal affairs investigators that they were alerted by the alarm and entered the room to find the deputy at the computer looking confused and unsure of what had happened, the report said.
A large-scale manhunt ensued, and Alvarado was captured about an hour later, but not before he attacked a 68-year-old man in his backyard with a barbecue tool, leaving him with injuries to his face, head and arms, Santa Clarita Valley sheriff's officials said.
An investigation revealed that the deputy was negligent in guarding Alvarado, a maximum-security inmate from the Pitchess Detection Center in Castaic who had been injured in a jail attack.
``Investigators subsequently performed an analysis of the computer's activity for the day and found that the timing and content of the activity suggested a distracted, preoccupied officer who was still logged on when the escape occurred in spite of his assertions to the contrary,'' according to the report.
The investigation further showed the deputy had been on computer sites with sexual content, prohibited by Sheriff's Department policy. A separate investigation found the same deputy had downloaded porn on his department computer.
The report also found that 20 inmates had escaped from the jails and courthouses from November 2004 through Sept. 30.
Patricia Farrell Aidem, (661) 257-5251
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Nov 19, 2005|
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