The plaintiff bragged about being tased in a Facebook post; his commanding officer was so angry that he decided to teach his subordinate the importance of silence.
An Oregon Department of Corrections employee has filed a lawsuit against the state and former coworkers, claiming he was assaulted with a taser over a Facebook post.
The Statesman Journal reports that the lawsuit was filed Friday on behalf of Michael Kilgus. The suit, which seeks $7 million in recompense, accuses the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility of fostering a culture of “silence enforced through violence, threats, and hazing.” It also states that several guards, past and present, engaged in a “dangerous conspiracy of retaliation, hazing, and violence.”
That conspiracy, says the suit, led to Kilgus being tased in the back. Left on a facility floor, Kilgus didn’t receive immediate medical attention and had a seizure.
Kilgus, says the Statesman Journal, was training to be on Coffee Creek’s SWAT team in November 2018. At that time, the Journal writes, Kilgus was supervised by Antony Ruvalcaba.
During the training, Kilgus says he and five other trainees were repeatedly verbally abused by Ruvalcaba.
In mid-November, Kilgus attended a Taser training session. While another member of the group volunteered to experience the effects of a stun gun first-hand, Kilgus claimed to have stepped forward in a Facebook post.
That post, says the lawsuit, wasn’t intended as a complaint—Kilgus was simply trying to get credit for being brave.
“His post was not intended to be interpreted as a complaint but, instead, as a jocular boast,” said Kilgus’s attorney, Juan Chavez.
For whatever reason, Ruvalcaba allegedly went into a rage after learning of Kilgus’s Facebook post. He and another Coffee Creek officer began creating a plan to punish Kilgus.
Eventually, the Statesman Journal writes, sympathetic staff procedure a Taser for Ruvalcaba. In response to another corrections sergeant who opposed the pay-back plan, Ruvalcaba purportedly said, “It’s [expletive] happening, whether you like it or not.”
Upon finding Kilgus in a Coffee Creek firing range, Ruvalbaca asked how he was going to “make this right.” Kilgus, says the Journal, offered to do push-ups, which Ruvalbaca declined—Ruvalbaca then suggested that KIlgus make the Facebook post “come true” by being tased.
Ruvalbaca, alleges the suit, then began pressuring Kilgus into being with a stun gun. Eventually Kilgus relented, after which he signed a consent form; the lawsuit states that Kilgus intentionally left blank several checkboxes, including boxes which indicated previous medical conditions, previous injuries, and, most importantly, consent.
The sergeant who was opposed to the revenge plan said he thought Ruvalbaca was aiming for Kilgus’s spine and told him not to—but that didn’t stop Ruvalbaca, whose stun gun made contact less than an inch from Kilgus’s backbone.
As Kilgus being seizing, Ruvalbaca lectured the training class on the importance of “silence.”
“Witnesses saw his body go stiff, his skin turn grayish-white, and his eyes roll back,” the lawsuit says. “Mr. Kilgus urinated on himself.”
Ruvalbaca, meanwhile, told the class that “what happens at drill stays at drill.” He left without providing Kilgus any medical care or attention.
Kilgus’s attorneys have since accused Ruvalbaca and other prison staff of battery, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional duress.
“Defendants used their power, influence, and authority under color of law to injure Mr. Kilgus and prevent others from intervening on his behalf,” Chavez wrote in the suit. “This culture has persisted even after this incident. Given the State’s acquiescence, and thus tacit approval for Defendants’ conduct, this culture will further continue.”
The lawsuit is the latest in a string of claims lodged against Coffee Creek over the past several years; most pertain to staff misconduct to employees.