Las Vegas Sun

March 23, 2019

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Inmate’s family sues North Las Vegas over jail death

The city of North Las Vegas along with police and jail officials were sued Wednesday over the 2009 killing of a jail inmate whom attorneys say was at risk of assault by other prisoners because he was suspected of a sex crime involving children.

Sergio Morales, father of Sergio Hugo Morales-Paredes and administrator of his estate, filed suit in U.S. District Court for Nevada over the death of his son, allegedly at the hands of another prisoner.

The suit charges wrongful death, negligence and that the civil rights of Morales-Paredes were violated when Morales-Paredes was placed in a cell in the North Las Vegas Detention center with his alleged killer, Armando Munoz-Ornelas, 25 at the time of the incident and whom the lawsuit described as a "violent detainee."

Attorneys for the father and estate of Morales-Paredes, 31 at the time of his death, said in the lawsuit Morales-Paredes was a pre-trial detainee incarcerated as a misdemeanor offender and that he was the victim of an "execution/murder" at the jail.

The victim "was supposed to be single-celled but Armando Munoz-Ornelas choked the decedant and beat the decedant" in the double-occupancy cell, the suit charged.

"The decedant's death was made possible by the defendant city of North Las Vegas officials responsible for classifying and implementing the flawed policies that allowed two persons so patently incompatible to be confined together in close quarters," the lawsuit charges.

The suit claims city policies have resulted in the placement of inmates like Morales-Paredes "at an unacceptable risk of violent assault."

The suit says Morales-Paredes was placed with the second inmate despite Sergio Morales having been told that his son would be housed in a single cell "because he was a vulnerable person because of his mental condition" and because he needed to be in protective custody because his arrest involved allegations he was a pedophile.

Citing the previous deaths of three other inmates -- Dwayne Banks, Harvey Harrison and Juan Villigran -- and injuries to other inmates, the lawsuit charged inadequate supervision and training of correctional officers.

The suit seeks unspecified general, compensatory and punitive damages. A request for comment on the suit was placed with the city.

Sergio Morales is represented in the lawsuit by Las Vegas attorneys Carmine Colucci and Cal Potter III.

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