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Staff Writer

Four detention officers were injured during a Wednesday night riot at
the Reeves County Law Enforcement Center, said County Judge Jimmy

Two of those believed most seriously hurt when they were beaten by
inmates are Cris Baeza, 21, and Anthony Baeza, 29. They, along with
Randy Licon, were treated at Reeves County Hospital's emergency room and

Chris Baeza was kicked all over his body, is sore and can hardly move,
said a family member this morning. Anthony Baeza was hit over the head
several times.

They were assigned as guards in one of the 150-bed wings which inmates
took over around 10 p.m. Wednesday.

A tower guard, Ben Deishler, was reportedly "shaken up," but hospital
personnel had no record of his being treated.

Galindo said that emergency medical personnel treated the injured

"At this time, we are unable to determine if there are inmate injuries,"
Galindo said at noon today. He said that 250 inmates are involved in the

Rioting inmates remained in the wings, and the facility was secure at
noon, but Galindo said the staff was unable to achieve a full lock-down
situation in those wings.

Inmates in other wings of the 620-bed prison were not affected by the
riot, but they are locked down, he said.

A full lock down puts all inmates in their cells and no movement outside
the cells is allowed.

The disturbance began when officers attempted to remove an inmate who
had been involved in a fight from a housing unit, Galindo said.

"As officers were attempting to segregate the instigators, various
inmates began assaulting detenion center staff. The officers exited and
secured the unit. However, the disturbance spread to a second unit
within the facility," he said. "Officers immediately secured both units
and the main corridors to the facility."

Officers who were on the scene Wednesday night reported the inmates tore
up the commissary before taking over A and B wings. After being locked
in the wings, they attempted to batter down doors, and officers from
several area agencies helped prevent their escape.

Water from a broken valve covered the floor before the staff could cut
the water off, one said. Galindo said he was not aware that had occurred.

Pecos Volunteer Firemen put out several grass fires set by inmates who
broke out the narrow windows in the wings and threw out flaming sticks.
Some of the water aimed at the fires may have drenched inmates.

An unidentified firemen suggested hosing down all the inmates and
letting them spend the night in the recreation yard, as temperatures
dropped to freezing and a breeze added to the misery.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Billy K. Johnson said that officials from the U.S.
Bureau of Prisons was in Pecos Wednesday for a routine visit and were
able to offer advice to prison warden Joe Trujillo as the riot wore on
into the night.

Other law enforcement agencies helping out included sheriff's
departments from Winkler, Ward, Reeves and Midland counties; Department
of Public Safety, U.S. Border Patrol, Texas Rangers and city police from
Pecos and Monahans.

"Everybody did a fine job," Johnson said. "There may be problems, but
everybody always works good together in something like this."

Galindo denied reports from several sources that neither guards nor
inmates at the RCDC have rules to follow, and that guards who attempt to
discipline inmates often are overruled by their supervisors - dubbed
"Jimmy's Kids."

"That is totally inaccurate," he said.

All the detention officers are required to be certified, he said, but he
sidestepped the query: "Are all of them certified?"

"There are different types of certification," he said. "Every person
goes through an orientation process. The first 40 hours is on-the-job
training, assigned to a senior staff. All of the staff do become
certified for county jails."

Controversy is nothing new at the 10-year-old prison, formerly known as
the Reeves County Law Enforcement Center.

Reeves County Commissioners approved construction of the $6.2 million
facility in 1984, at the urging of then-sheriff Raul Florez. The 528-bed
facility opened in May, 1986.

The LEC began operations under the authority of the Reeves County
Sheriff's Department.

Continuing problems with staffing and operations brought censure from
the BOP on numerous occasions, and they began pulling out prisoners last
year when Sheriff Arnulfo "Andy" Gomez fired warden Joe Trujillo.

Reeves County Commissioners then took over operation with Gomez's
blessing and re-hired Trujillo.

A total of 14 prisoners escaped from the facility in the first 26 months
of operation. The incidents were blamed by the BOP on poor security

On August 28, 1994, when inmates torched the recreation building during
a 7½ hour protest. The building was erected less than two years earlier
at the urging of the BOP, which also pushed for construction of
isolation cells at the prision that are now in use.

Galindo said last year that the BOP contract is "absolutely vital to the
community. It provides 135 jobs and $7 million to the community."

Pecos police officers left the scene of a last night's Detention Center
riot after awaiting for deployment orders for more than two hours and
being chastised by the warden for harassing the prisoners.

Pecos Police Chief Troy Moore and Police Captain David Montgomery
expressed their concern with the organization of law enforcement units
that were established outside the perimeters of the Reeves County
Detention Center, where a disturbance among inmates in two cell blocks
was reported shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday.

The comments came just before lunch today, after Reeves County Sheriff
Andy Gomez asked for two police units to help relieve a group of his men
and Midland County deputies, who had been out at the Detention Center
all night helping contain matters.

Montgomery said that police units were called out at first report of the
riot, when things were at their worst at the detainment facility,
located about a mile southwest of town.

He said that prisoners were attempting to set the building on fire,
windows were being broken out, news of one injured guard had reached
them and obscenities from prisoners were being directed through broken
windows towards his officers, who were awaiting orders.

"No one was telling us where to deploy men," he said.

"There was not command post outside," he said, "and we were never
briefed." Montgomery explained that they were initially dispatched to
the location to secure the perimeter about 10 p.m., but never received
any instructions and pulled out about 1:30 a.m., leaving instructions
for notification when needed. "We still have not had any official
briefing," he said.

One officer, said Montgomery, got particularly agitated after a prisoner
directed savage remarks towards him, and yelled back at the prisoner.
The captain complained that RCDC warden Joe Trujillo then chastised
officers for agitating the prisoners.

"There was so much commotion," said Montgomery, that he doubted the
prisoners could hear what the officers were yelling back. "The problem
was inside, not outside," Montgomery said he told the warden.

As of 11:45 a.m. today, both Moore and Montgomery said that they had no
idea as to why the riot started or any other details in regards to the

The captain did say that it appeared to have involved over 300 prisoners
after listening to accounts while out at the jail. He said that at the
peak of the riot, they were told that prisoners had broken through the
commissary and taken over the "A" wing, which reportedly contained about
137 prisoners.

Soon thereafter, they broke through and took over the "B" wing, which
contained an addition 170 prisoners.

A Monahans Police Department spokesperson also said that two of his
department's units were sent down last night to help with the situation,
but returned to Monahans not long after.

Pyote and Wink deputies of the Ward and Winkler County sheriffs
departments were dispatched as well, but a representative for the
department said this morning that the two officers were not at work this
morning and was not aware of them still being in Pecos.
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Copyright 1996 by Pecos Enterprise
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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