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Utah County sued by jail inmate after being shot with non-lethal bullets

(Photo provided by Robert Sykes)

UTAH COUNTY JAIL – Is it a case of excessive force at the Utah County Jail?  An inmate is suing the county jail after a guard fired rubber bullets into his leg, causing him significant injuries.

The suit stems from a case in 2015 when Luis Prado refused to come out of his cell.  Jail reports show Prado has a history of mental illness, and that there was a large amount of garbage reportedly piling up inside.  Officers wanted to get him out so it could be cleaned, but, that’s when his attorney, Robert Sykes says Prado was combative and threatening.

Sykes says one of the guards pointed his shotgun at the small opening in Prado’s door, firing two rounds of rubber bullets into Prado’s right thigh.

Sykes calls this “outrageous.”

“Putting the gun a few to six inches to someone’s leg, who is not armed, by himself in his cell, with other alternatives, is definitely outrageous,” he says.

The lawsuit claims there were other, safer methods that could have been used to get Prado under control, and that the use of rubber bullets should have been the last step taken, not the first.

Sykes says, “We believe that this force was used as punishment.  ‘We’re gonna teach this guy a lesson.’”

Some of the bullets embedded into Prado’s leg, causing an infection.  A chunk of flesh was blasted out of Prado’s thigh.

Despite that, body cam video shows the bullets seemed to have no effect on Prado.

“You see the reaction from Mr. Prado after the first round hits him, it has no effect on his behavior, whatsoever.  Yet, they administer a second round,” according to former Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank, who was asked to consult on this case.

After the rubber bullets were used, another officer fired a capsule of tear gas into the cell and after six minutes, Prado stopped resisting.  Burbank asks, why didn’t the officers do this first?

“There was no need to have a shotgun and take the action that they did,” he adds.

Attorneys for the Utah County Sheriff’s Office have not answered our requests for a response, however, the Sheriff’s Office tweeted a statement.