Accused of throwing scalding water on a mentally ill inmate, causing first- and second-degree burns to his hands, a former California sheriff’s deputy was recently charged with one felony count of assault or battery by a public officer and one felony count of battery with serious bodily injury.
On April 1, 2021, a custodial deputy at the Sheriff’s Intake Release Center in Santa Ana ordered a mentally ill inmate to retract his hands from the hatch door so that the door could be closed. When the inmate refused to comply, Deputy Guadalupe Ortiz and a third deputy offered to assist the first deputy.
At approximately 12:28 p.m., Deputy Ortiz filled a cup with scalding water from a hot water dispenser before allegedly pouring the water on the inmate’s hands. After the inmate immediately retracted his hands, one of the deputies closed the hatch. The three deputies left without giving the inmate any medical attention.
At 7 p.m., another deputy performed a standard security check and discovered first- and second-degree burns on the inmate’s red and peeling hands. The inmate finally received medical assistance after being forced to wait roughly six and a half hours.
Ortiz spent 19 years working as an Orange County Sheriff’s deputy and previously served as a Sheriff’s Special Officer (SSO) for three years. He was terminated on Friday.
On Monday, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer announced that Ortiz had been charged with one felony count of assault or battery by a public officer and one felony count of battery with serious bodily injury. The former deputy faces a maximum sentence of four years in state prison if convicted on all counts.
“The law imputes a special duty of care on custodial personnel and in this case the Sheriff’s deputy completely breached that duty and crossed the line into criminal conduct,” District Attorney Spitzer said in a press release. “As District Attorney it is my responsibility to hold Sheriff’s deputies and other jail staff accountable when they fail to properly protect those in their care. And now a deputy is throwing away a 22-year-career for inflicting unnecessary harm on a mentally ill inmate out of frustration.”