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Nevada prison guard trainee charged in death

Posted at 1:07 PM, Apr 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-18 21:51:24-04
It's taken nearly a year and a half, plus allegations of a cover up, for the state to charge a corrections officer in a deadly prison shooting.  

Contact 13 explains why some say this is only half a cup of justice.

In November 2014, two handcuffed inmates in a secured unit called "The Hole" got into a fight at High Desert State Prison. A guard fires multiple rounds to break it up. Inmate Andrew Arevalo is seriously wounded.  Inmate Carlos Perez is killed.

"Carlos' mother, Mrs. Perez, was very concerned that there would never be that sense of justice in the case," said Perez family attorney Cal Potter.

On Monday, the Nevada Attorney General filed a criminal complaint against former Correctional Officer Trainee Raynaldo J. Ramos.

Ramos is charged with "reckless disregard of persons or property resulting in death" and "involuntary manslaughter" for his role in the death of Perez, who was shot in the chest, neck and head.

"Why did it take this long for these distilled charges to come down?" Potter asked.

The charges come just one week after an internal prison report went public -- blaming two other corrections officers for failing to follow safety procedures, failing to break up the fight and bringing "negative media attention" on the Department of Corrections. There is no mention in the report of Trainee Ramos.

Potter said, "It's almost like a half a cup of justice at this point."

And for only half of the victims. Arevalo was injured by the same gun in the same incident, but no one is being held criminally responsible for shooting him.

"This gives NDOC, this gives the AG's office almost a scapegoat in COT Ramos," said Arevalo's attorney, Alexis Plunkett. "They've charged him with low-level felonies and they've charged the lowest person on the totem pole. They've charged the trainee. And they're attempting to remove the blame from all the higher-ups and from anyone else. It's a trickle-down.  And at the very bottom of the totem pole is the person that they're making take the fall for this."

Contact 13 went to Ramos' apartment after neither he nor his lawyer returned our calls. 

The voices inside the apartment quickly quieted when we rang the bell.

There was no answer and no response, same for the Department of Corrections. They wouldn't give us photos of the corrections officers or make any comment about the charges.

Ramos has not been arrested. Instead, he'll be summoned to appear in court some time in the next two weeks. He faces two to nine years in prison if convicted.

As Contact 13 reported, the Department of Corrections has changed its story multiple times. 

Last year, in an internal, administrative proceeding, they found inmate Andrew Arevalo guilty of murdering Carlos Perez, even though Arevalo was handcuffed and didn't have a gun.

"Clearly he wasn't the individual who pulled the trigger or set up the situation," Potter pointed out.

That charge was later reversed on appeal.

Potter says NDOC also didn't tell the Perez family the truth about how their son died, claiming it was the result of blunt force trauma.

"Clearly they leave more questions than they give answers," Potter said.

In a press release, Attorney General Adam Laxalt said, "As attorney general, I do not take lightly charging a correctional officer, but based on the available evidence, prosecutors in my office believe criminal charges are warranted."

"Almost seems like an apology for filing the charges," said Potter.