Inspector General's Report on Provencio a Cover Up
Sunday, July 31, 2005
Inspector General's Report on Provencio a Cover Up
B. Cayenne Bird is a 37-year veteran journalist who volunteers her time as founder and director of United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect UNION. The UNION is active in prison reform and criminal justice issues. She is a mother and grandmother and focuses on human rights and restorative justice. She is also the host of television series "Cayenne Common Sense" and publishes a daily online newsletter. She doesn't have a current photo
By B. Cayenne Bird
We as taxpayers paid a fortune for the report on the shooting death of Daniel Provencio at California State Prison, Wasco, which was released last week from the State Office of the Inspector General (OIG). In fact at least three different agencies stumble-bummed over the top of one another, not even knowing whose job was whose. And even after all that energy and dollars spent, the report doesn't include the names of anyone involved: not the witnesses, nor the guard who shot Danny Provencio -- almost nobody.
The sub-reports that we paid for about what happened in this suspicious shooting death in a tax-payer-financed institution are unavailable even though there is a law against government entities hiding records. One report was said to have been made by the Wasco Prison Warden who is one of the legally responsible parties for what took place that day. I am sure his report is objective.
After all, it isn't every day that an investigation is called for in an inmate's death. It's usually only in the rare event of the death of one of the guards that the legislators and all the agencies care enough to attempt an investigation But after nine international news articles exposed the outrageous shackling of a brain-dead young man with armed guards on him around the clock while he lay motionless on life support, CDC had to explain.
What that explanation amounts to is nothing more than a tax-payer financed cover up in the opinion of his family and in my opinion as the advocate who helped them gain attention for this great cruelty which they couldn't get on their own.
That's because typically nobody in the bureaucracy hears the screams of families of prisoners. Nancy Mendoza, Danny's mother and I had to literally crash the Little Hoover Commission hearing on the proposed Prison Plan in Sacramento with all the media present to get help for her.
Mendoza's son Danny Provencio was on life support near death on January 21, 2005 She and her family were being denied information visits. CDC claimed Mendoza had an outstanding traffic ticket that needed to be paid. Her elderly mother confined to a wheelchair, Danny's grandmother, didn't have an ID card. So for two weeks in their blackest hour this hurting mother and other family members were denied hospital visits for ridiculous reasons. She had already paid the traffic ticket last September, which was a registration violation When the grieving family finally did get into the hospital, what they saw was their brain dead son, shackled in his bed on a ventilator with prison guards gruffly telling them "visit for ten minutes only." Those who could get in had to take off from work and drive several hours from Oxnard for a ten minute visit as their son, in prison for a minor parole violation, lay dying.
The Wasco State Prison Public Information officer lied to me when I tried to find out why Nancy Mendoza and her elderly mother couldn't visit Danny. "Oh, she can visit" he said. "We wouldn't do anything like that prohibit a mother from visiting over a traffic ticket."
The letter that was sent to Nancy Mendoza from CDC is posted online at our website under a link entitled "CDC Lied." It clearly states just what they told her that she couldn't visit due to an outstanding traffic ticket.
That was the only the first lie. There were many more to follow over the weeks that ensued. The Inspector General's "Report with No Names" is the compilation of a bunch of lies that even a person of minimal intelligence could see through.
The report is posted online at www.oig.ca.gov .
The Coroner's report ruled Danny's death a homicide. But shockingly, this is not mentioned in the OIG's report. Why do we have Coroners if their opinions do not count? This is more than ineptitude in my opinion. This is cover up.
Go here and click on Coroner's report: http://www.1union1.com/Provencio.html
Here's a list of points that are misrepresented or excluded in the OIG report which were compiled by Danny's family and myself:
1. Witnesses and the medical records describe a second wound in the middle of Provencio's forehead. There was an indentation about the size of one of those rubber bullets. This injury was never mentioned in the OIG's report. Why not? What caused this indentation if not a bullet? A metal baton? It didn't appear to be the shape of a metal baton but it should have been mentioned, not excluded. The injury along the left side of his head, the one that allegedly killed him was not an indentation Go here and click on medical record for the proof of a second head injury which might have been the one from the rubber bullet but not the fatal injury.
Go here for this evidence documented and click on medical report: http://www.1union1.com/Provencio.html
2. Senator Gloria Romero made a trip to the Bakersfield Mercy hospital. Before Knowing she was coming, the hospital administration made a copy of the medical records for Danny's mother to make themselves look good before Danny died.
These were not the records from the prison, but from the admission date onward which covered several weeks. The prison has yet to give the lawyers the medical records from the prison. The withholding and distortion of medical records is common in all inmate deaths and injuries. There was no blood alcohol test in the set of documents given to the family on the date of Senator Romero's visit. I asked for this test specifically the minute Danny's mother secured the records and the test wasn't there. I really question how the "blood test" that suddenly appeared much later on claiming Danny's alcohol level was .015. The OIG's report stated this blood test was conducted about more than three hours after his injury, at 7:35 pm. But the medical records do not mention blood alcohol test on the 17th, while they do mention other chemistries. Why wasn't this blood alcohol test in the first medical records given to Danny's mother several weeks after he was hospitalized? There was certainly time for the test to have been completed.
3. The OIG report mentions that Danny's clothing was thrown away. Could it have been that the blood on that clothing would have tested at a different alcohol level (if any)? Missing clothes, the forehead injury not even mentioned, a blood test that wasn't there before declaring Danny very drunk.
4. Pruno manufacture is done by suspending fruit and sugar in a drain or a toilet. It has a strong smell that guards can easily detect. How much pruno will in a drain or toilet? Inmates claim that they can get a MILD buzz from drinking an entire cup of it.
How much pruno would they have to drink to be that drunk - .015? There is no sugar allowed at most prisons and the fruit is denied from their diets to the point that their health is put in jeopardy. How much illegal sugar in a bag suspended in a toilet or small drain would have been possible for Danny to have consumed. Like the Pruno, this cover up story stinks to high heaven. The stuff is extremely vile and drinking large quantities of it would be difficult. The way the guards cover up, he could have been injected with anything before being brought to the prison. A jaundiced eye is necessary in order to conduct a real investigation. That didn't happen here, obviously. More expert witnesses outside of CDC are needed.
5. Touchy-feely words to describe a lethal weapon is misleading. The OIG's report used the word "sponge bullet" instead of a "foam bullet" that CDC was using with media. As if a person could die of blunt trauma from sponge or foam. It was a lethal rubber projectile with enough force to kill and that is the language that should have been used. Soft-shoe should be reserved for tap dancing in the theater not in the public arena. The coroner who ruled Danny's death a homicide used the proper term, "rubber projectile" in his final report.
6. According to the OIG's report, more than one hour passed between the time Danny was shot until he arrived at Mercy Hospital. That was too long. The Coroner's report said the injury happened at approximately 1600 hours, 4 p.m. but the OIG's report stated 4:45 pm. In an emergency, 45 minutes more is an eternity. The family wasn't telephoned about Danny's injury until 10 pm, approximately six hours later, just before he was finally taken into surgery. In most hospitals, the first thing that is done in an emergency is blood work and x-rays. If it took until 7:35 to get the alleged blood test, what was going on for the 3 hours plus preceding this step. There are discrepancies in the times obviously to cover a poor emergency response time. The OIG report does mention a poor emergency response time but it is worded as if this is a big surprise. Numerous lawsuits have been filed over lives lost due to ambulances taking hours to arrive at California prisons and guards who don't even know basic first aid even though they are paid nearly $100,000 per year or more in many cases.
7 The names of the guards are left out of the report. Why? This is a taxpayer-financed Institution, a taxpayer financed report and the names of the guards are left out. The Public has a right to know who was responsible.
8. If I find out the names of the guards from the inmate witnesses, whom I have no doubt had their lives threatened and have endured a living hell while this was taking place, I will tell the world about it. Typically inmate witnesses are immediately shipped out to other prisons and hidden in the hole for months, if not years just because they saw something. This "hiding" of the facts is what empowers misconduct and the Code of Silence. Who committed the wrongs and what are the consequences? That information is what a report should contain.
9. The OIG's report states that Danny was shot and knelt to the floor but quickly stood up again. In the medical report there were notes from two different doctors who received calls and statements from the prison and correctional officers. The doctors were told that Danny lost immediate consciousness. It also states that Danny was in an altered mental state. He became confused, combative, and lost the ability to breathe on his own. Combativeness is a typical symptom of brain damage. When an inmate becomes combative under normal circumstances, about ten guards jump on him, beat him up and put him in five point restraints. Medical care couldn't be administered because a 120 lb. guy was "combative" What misrepresentation and feeble attempt at cover up!
10. There were also notes contributed in those initials reports to the doctors including a situation where Danny was allegedly being held as a hostage by other inmates as per a correctional officer history. In fact it appeared in some of the press coverage. Ultimately, it said, as that hostage situation was being resolved and other inmates laid on the ground, Danny attempted to attack an officer, prompting the shooting. So what is the real story? Whatever happened to the hostage story and what is the name of the inmate who was holding Danny. If one unarmed inmate could restrain Danny, how is it that several officers couldn't restrain him enough to treat his injury if they even tried?
11. How could the bullet that was meant for Danny's right leg hit him on the left side of his head? The OIG report states that bullet would hit 4-5" above the intended target. That would mean he should have been hit in his abdomen. A person would have to have been a very bad shot to be that far off at the alleged 53 feet. I find this unbelievable with the amount of target practice the guards do every day where the inmates can hear them. Others have said that in order for a rubber projectile to have been lethal, the shot would have to been made at very close range. What's the real truth?
12. What was written on the logbook report probably long thrown away by now? The OIG report states what the inmates were shouting, but says nothing about what was written in the logbook. Was the shooting in retaliation for what happened to Officer Gonzales in Chino? If Danny was a hostage being held by an inmate, what would that have had to do with Chino?
13. How do you get 112 witnesses from 38 inmates and a few officers? Let's see the video and photos. A lot of questions, not very many logical answers. The public has a right to know. More than 365 inmates per year are dying in California's prisons. They deserve valid investigations and their families deserve closure.