SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California correctional officer was sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison on Monday for causing the death of an inmate in 2016 and pepper-spraying another because he thought it was “funny.”
Arturo Pacheco, 40, was escorting a 65-year-old inmate whose hands were cuffed behind him when he yanked the inmate’s legs from under him. The inmate landed face first on the concrete floor, breaking his jaw and several teeth. He was being treated in a hospital two days later when he died of a pulmonary embolism.
Four months earlier, Pacheco pepper-sprayed a “calm and compliant” 54-year-old prisoner at close range, leaving him temporarily blind. He later called the incident “funny” in a text message, according to a plea agreement Pacheco made in July.
Pacheco was sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison. He pleaded guilty in July to two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and two counts of falsifying records for his attempts to cover up the abuse.
He apologized at his sentencing and fought back tears, the Sacramento Bee reported.
“I’m extremely remorseful, your honor,” Pacheco told the judge.
U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert said the sentence shows guards who harm inmates “are not above the law.”
Pacheco was fired from California State Prison, Sacramento, in 2018. A second correctional officer who also was fired in 2018 previously pleaded guilty to submitting a false report about Pacheco’s actions.