(Neb)-Not Guilty Pleas And Civil Suit In Death Of SB Inmate In Prison Riot
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP)-An inmate at the state prison in Tecumseh has pleaded Not Guilty to 1st-degree murder and other charges for killing an inmate from Scottsbluff during a prison riot last March.
27-year-old Eric Ramos entered the pleas to murder, assault, two weapons counts, and tampering with evidence during a teleconference Tuesday. No trial date has been set.
The bodies of 31-year-old Michael Galindo of Scottsbluff and 39-year-old Damon Fitzgerald were found after authorities restored order. Although Ramos is charged with Galindo's death, no one has been charged yet with killing Fitzgerald.
In a related development, Galindo's family has filed a federal lawsuit against the state for his death, claiming prison staff abandoned their posts and watched on video as he was repeatedly stabbed and killed.
Galindo, who was serving 12-24 years for robbery and other charges, was attacked about 90 minutes after prison staff abandoned a prison housing unit and stabbed 130 times by fellow inmates. It took 3½ hours to bring the March 2 riot under control.
Attorney Maren Chaloupka of Scottsbluff, representing the family, says prison officials knew after a Mother's Day 2015 riot that also left 2 inmates death that the Tecumseh prison staff was inadequate and insufficiently trained to manage “an increasingly volatile inmate population” but did not addressed the deficiencies.
State corrections officials have a policy of not commenting on pending lawsuits, but in the immediate aftermath of the incident, State Corrections Director Scott Frakes said staff responded “flawlessly” and had followed protocol in retreating from the affected housing unit.
The Tecumseh prison, located about 60 miles south of Omaha, has been plagued with high staff turnover and an inability to fill security posts, thus forcing mandatory overtime to fill positions. Authorities have said the March uprising began because inmates were angry that prison staffers had confiscated 150 pounds of homemade alcohol from them.
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