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$5,000 Settlement for Prisoner Subjected to Pepper Spray for Requesting Medication

by David M. Reutter

The GEO Group paid $5,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging violations of the Fourth and Eighth Amendments.

Gabriel H. Grado was released on August 4, 2015, from New Mexico's Mental Health Treatment Center after being treated the previous six months for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and severe depression. Upon that release, he was transferred to the Northeast New Mexico Detention Facility, operated by the GEO Group.

Grado was prescribed psychiatric drugs to treat his condition. He was experiencing PTSD symptoms of severe anxiety and was agitated on August 23, 2015. Grado asked Sgt. Vigil and another guard if he could go to med-line to get his medication. Sgt. Vigil told him to hold on while he was allowing other pods to go to med-line. Grado asked again about 10-15 minutes later, but Vigil ignored him and left the pod.

When Sgt. T. Ryne entered his pod, Grado assumed he could go to med-line, and he tried to walk into the hallway. She told him it was too late and for him to take it up with Vigil.

An exchange occurred between Grado and Vigil over the intercom. Vigil told Grado that ''it sucks to be you'' when he asked to go to med-line or see the shift supervisor. Grado responded, ''Yeah, it's gonna suck for you to lose your job for denying me medical, and then something happens.''

Vigil then came into the pod and reached for his pepper spray, and ordered Grado into the hallway. Words were exchanged between the two, and Vigil attempted to pepper spray Grado, who ducked and turned his back. Vigil handcuffed Grado and then reached around and pepper-sprayed him. Two lieutenants arrived and told Vigil to let go of Grado.

Represented by Albuquerque attorney Frances C. Crockett (Carpenter), Grado sued on August 22, 2017. The GEO Group agreed on November 17, 2017, to settle the matter for $5,000. See: Grado v. The GEO Group, USDC, D. New Mexico, Case no. 1:17-cv-877

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Related legal case

Grado v. The GEO Group



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