The Los Angeles County Claims Board is recommending that the Board of Supervisors pay $185,000 to settle a civil rights complaint involving the murder of an inmate while in jail in Castaic.
The suit seeks compensation for the August 2012 death of James Joe Moreno, 22, who was killed while incarcerated at North County Correctional Facility, according to a staff report.
The suit filed by some of Moreno’s family members accuses the Sheriff’s Department of federal civil rights violations, negligence, fraud and conspiracy.
Moreno was arrested and charged with robbery on May 22, 2012.
According to court documents, about a year prior to his death, Moreno suffered traumatic brain injury after crashing his motorcycle. When he entered the jail system, he did not meet any criteria for a mental or psychiatric hold, according to a licensed clinical social worker who assessed him upon incarceration, the documents state.
Moreno’s mother alleges that Moreno needed medication and struggled with daily tasks. She reportedly made multiple attempts to explain his mental limitations to jail officials but was told that all communication regarding Moreno’s health needs to be conveyed through their attorney.
Court documents assert that Moreno was first assaulted by other inmates in Dorm 629 on May 30, 2012 and did not report the attack. When deputies discovered his injuries, he was moved to a holding facility before being returned to general population on Aug. 25, 2012.
Two days later, at approximately 1:30 p.m., deputies saw Moreno lying on the ground. He was unresponsive. Emergency responders arrived on scene at about 1:34 p.m.
First aid was administered for about 20 minutes before Moreno was transported to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 2:45 p.m., according to the documents.
A witness said he saw Moreno lying on the ground for “probably 10, 15 minutes” before deputies came to assist him.
LASD Homicide Bureau investigated his death and later charged fellow inmate Arturo Gonzalez with murder. Gonzalez’s criminal case is ongoing.
Multiple court motions made on behalf of the Sheriffís Department have been denied.