Criminal Charges Against Deputies & Separate Suit Relate To Jailhouse Brutality

Within days of one another toward the end of last month, two further indications of the brutalization and/or malignant neglect of inmates in the care of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department publicly surfaced.
On Wednesday May 22, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office criminally charged former sheriff’s deputy Luke Van Ginkel, 22, with assaulting and threatening an inmate in December 2018. Also charged in the matter was inmate Alex Garcia, 40. Also criminally charged in the incident relating to Van Ginkel and Garcia was Deputy Arthur Enriquez, 33,
The sheriff’s department acknowledges having received credible accounts to indicate that on at least two separate occasions since he Van Ginkel began working as a guard at West Valley Detention Center, he engaged in action that crossed the line into criminal conduct.
On December 31, 2018, an inmate assaulted by Garcia lodged a grievance alleging maltreatment and staff misconduct relating to his beating.
According to the department, “During that same shift, a sergeant received the grievance and began the initial investigation. This initial investigation revealed alleged criminal misconduct involving deputies facilitating an assault on an inmate by another inmate.”
The department maintains that as of January 2, 2019, “the specialized investigations division began a criminal investigation, which involved interviewing more than 100 witnesses, reviewing extensive video and audio recordings, as well as collecting other evidence.”
Ultimately, according to the department, sheriff’s deputies Van Ginkel and Enriquez “were identified as the involved suspects. Van Ginkel was placed on administrative leave on January 3, 2019. He was hired on July 8, 2017 and started at the West Valley Detention Center on December 16, 2017. As of April 1, 2019, Van Ginkel no longer works for the sheriff’s department. Enriquez was also placed on administrative leave on January 5, 2019. He was hired on January 7, 2017 and started at the West Valley Detentions Center on July 22, 2017.”
There is yet no word as whether the union representing sheriff’s department personnel, the San Bernardino County’s Safety Employees Benefit Association, will intervene in an effort to reverse Van Ginkel’s firing. Van Ginkel attended Upland High School and graduated in 2015.
It is unclear whether Enriquez is yet employed with the department.
In the action taken by the district attorney’s office on May 22, Van Ginkel is charged with a violation of Penal Code Sections 422(a) – engaging in criminal threats and 245(a)(4) – assault by means of force likely to result in great bodily injury.
On December 24, according to the district attorney’s office, Van Ginkel told an inmate, Jose Angel Carillo, he was going to kill him.
The district attorney’s office further alleges that Van Ginkel subsequently set up a fight between Garcia, who is jailed on a murder charge, and Richard Freeman, who is likewise in custody on suspicion of murder. The fight took place on December 31.
Enriquez is charged with Penal Code 32 – accessory to a crime. Enriquez allegedly sought to deter the investigation in Van Ginkel’s action by filing a false report and making misrepresentations to investigators. Garcia, who assisted Van Ginkel in perpetrating the assault, according to the district attorney’s office, was charged with Penal Code 245(a)(4) – assault by means of force likely to result in great bodily injury.
Van Ginkel has his defenders, who say he is really a nice guy who only gets mean if he has a little too much sugar. He is scheduled for arraignment on June 17 before Judge Dan Detienne.
Enriquez is scheduled for arraignment on June 17 before Judge Dan Detienne.
Perry Belden, who was formerly an inmate at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department jail in Joshua Tree, has filed a federal lawsuit alleging the neglect of his jailers while he was in custody led to the loss of both of his legs and his hand.
Belden’s ordeal began shortly after he was was taken into custody on March 27, 2018, in the aftermath of a March 16, 2018 incident at the Twentynine Palms home of his mother and stepfather. On the earlier day, Belden’s mother, Robin Olds, summoned the sheriff’s department when a fight broke out between Belden and his stepfather. Before officers arrived, Belden, who had previous convictions for obstructing a police office and grand theft, and was addicted to heroin, left the scene.
According to documents filed with the court, the sheriff’s department obtained a bench warrant for Belden’s arrest and deputies instituted a search for him, including returning to Olds’ home on no fewer than eight occasions to see if they could effectuate his arrest. Belden’s status as a known drug addict with previous arrests and convictions for theft and resisting arrest prompted a concerted effort to bring him into custody. Belden, who was lying low at an associate’s home, became aware of the warrant for his arrest and resigned himself to surrendering to authorities on March 27, 2018, having his mother tell the sheriff’s department where he was. Instead of responding as Olds and Belden believed was their understanding by coming to the residence where Belden was in order to take him into custody without incident, the deputies arrived en masse and armed with assault weapons. Belden took refuge in the attic of the home, whereupon the deputies fired a pepper spray bomb into the attic, at which point Belden plunged through the ceiling, injuring himself in the fall. According to court papers, the deputies then twice employed a stun gun on Belden when he was sprawled on the floor.
Because of his injuries, Belden was initially transported by deputies to the Hi-Desert Medical Center. Disclosure that Belden was a  heroin addict was made at that point to both Hi-Desert Medical Center personnel and the sheriff’s department. Belden was prescribed Klonopin to prevent withdrawal-induced seizures. According to the lawsuit, the department was on notice that Belden’s vital signs were to be monitored. Without regard to what they had been told, the deputies transported Belden to the Morongo Basin jail, which lacked even rudimentary medical facilities and had no trained medical personnel on staff. No medication was provided to Belden while he was incarcerated in the Morongo Basin jail.
During his arraignment at the Joshua Tree Courthouse on April 2, Olds said Belden “looked like death.” When Belden told the escorting deputies that he was feeling weak and ill, they responded that was what happened to “crackheads” who were out of crack and he would just have to “suck it up.” When he was unable to walk on his own power, they dragged him into the courtroom. Judge Bert L. Swift made no note of the circumstance either on or off the record, and took no action to ensure that Belden’s medical condition was looked into. Belden entered a plea to assault and vandalism, the vandalism being that related to his having fallen through the ceiling of the home where he was taken into custody.
“Perry took the first plea deal offered to him because he wanted to get out of local custody,” according to Belden’s suit.
On April 3, Belden was transferred to the West Valley Detention Center, where on the following morning his condition had grown to such a critical state that personnel there recognized his life was in danger. He was transported to the Arrowhead Medical Center, where it was in short order determined that Belden was suffering from septic shock brought on by unattended infections and was experiencing renal failure. To prevent the gangrene in his limbs from spreading further, doctors were obliged to amputate both his legs and left hand. His right hand was saved, but is now seriously deformed.
The county was served with the lawsuit on May 24. Neither the county nor Judge Swift, who is an employee of the State of California, were willing to comment on the litigation.

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