CopBlock Network Contributor Nasty Nathanial and California Guardian were out filming a prison when an overly aggressive and self entitled prison guard attacked them and tried to steal the device California Guardian was using to record. After all was said and done the local police recommended charges against the prison guard but still did not arrest him.
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March 5, 2017
Correctional Sergeant A. Botello
California Institution For Men, 14901 Central Avenue, Chino, CA 91710
Warden: Dean Borders
Howdy folks, just when I think that those in positions of power have learned their lesson and have chosen to accept the fact that they are public servants who work for the people who pay their salaries; allowing them the privilege of driving overpriced cars and living in high-end homes. I end up hanging my head and shaking it.
This was the case on March 5, 2017 when the California Guardian and I decided to conduct a First Amendment Audit of the California Institution For Men, which is a state prison in the city of Chino. For those of you who follow the videos of 1st Amendment Auditors, such as myself and the California Guardian, you will know that correctional officers don’t particularly respond well to photographers exercising their constitutionally protected rights to practice photography out in the open.
What the California Guardian and I experienced on this particular Sunday night took things to a whole new level.
The two of us had spent the day traveling throughout the Inland Empire conducting First Amendment Audits and were returning to Los Angeles when we decided to stop in Chino and conduct a First Amendment Audit of the state prison there. Being that this particular prison has been audited in the past, we didn’t really expect to get much a response from the correctional staff there. Keep in mind that a “Pass” one day does not mean it won’t be a “Fail” the next.
The California Institution For Men opened in 1941 and was the forth state prison to be built-in California. It has been historically known as being the “Prison Without Walls” as it houses the largest number of Level I minimum security inmates in the state. It also has a history of employing bad apple correctional officers. Here are some examples:
- In July of 2004 correctional officer Shayne Allyn Ziska was arrested by federal authorities on charges of helping the Nazi Low Riders, a white supremacist prison gang, distribute narcotics and commit assaults on other inmates inside the California Institution For Men. He was ultimately convicted in this case and was sentenced to more than 17 years in federal prison. Ziska is currently Bureau Of Prisons inmate number 04299-748.
- In December of 2009 correctional officer Tonya Henderson walked into a Target store in Victorville dressed in her Department Of Corrections uniform and with her 6-year-old son in tow, walked out with a big screen television, a steam cleaner, and a Xbox 360 video game console. Store security noticed her and she was arrested for commercial burglary.
- In April of 2010 correctional officer Jeff Thomas Jelinek was arrested as an accessory to the kidnapping and rape of a woman at the Ontario Mills Mall by off duty Westminster police detective Anthony Orban. Jelinek would later plead no contest(guilty) in the case. Orban would end up committing suicide while in custody awaiting trial.
On that fine Sunday evening the California Guardian and I encountered one of these bad apple prison guards.
Meet Correctional Sergeant A. Botello, Chino Prison’s finest.
Sergeant Botello and another officer drove out of the main entrance of the prison and pulled up along the public sidewalk where the California Guardian and I were standing. Sergeant Botello got out the vehicle and instead of politely inquiring as to our business there, and began pointing his finger and insisting that we had “no authority” to be filming the prison.
I’m going to pause for a moment and explain something to you. Correctional officers love to throw out the fact that they are peace officers. Yes correctional officers in the state of California hold peace officer status. But let me throw out another fact. California correctional officers possess what is known as “limited policing powers”. To put it simply, their jurisdiction does not extend beyond the gate.
When California Guardian tried to explain to that we are on public property, Correctional Sergeant Botello grabbed his camera and tried to take it from him. When California Guardian resists Sergeant Botello becomes more hostile and further attempts seize California Guardian’s camera by lifting the strap up over his forehead. At this point I decided to dial 911 and notify the police of an attempted robbery taking place against my friend, and fellow auditor. When he noticed me calling the police Sergeant Botello must have realized his foolishness for he let go of California Guardian’s camera and backed off. Nevertheless, Correction Sergeant had just committed an attempted robbery.
Within’ minutes officers from the Chino Police Department were on the scene. After taking everybody’s statements and reviewing the video recorded footage of the incident, the Chino PD decided to refer the matter to the San Bernadino County District Attorney’s Office for possible criminal prosecution. Of course the California Guardian and I would have preferred that Correction Sergeant Botello be taken into custody right on the spot, the fact of the matter is that he is a peace officer and they all stand behind that thin blue line.
This is where we the people have the power to make a difference in this case. That is why I am encouraging all of you reading this to view the video footage of the attempted robbery committed by Correction Sergeant Botello and after doing so you contact the San Bernadino County District Attorney’s Office and demand that there be a criminal prosecution. This level of abuse of private citizens by public officials cannot continue to exist. Thank you all for reading and I will keep you updated as this case progresses. – Nasty Nathanial
San Bernadino County District Attorney’s Office
District Attorney: Michael Ramos
303 West 3rd Street, 6th Floor
San Bernardino, CA 92415-0502
Chino PD Case Number: 1702159