Hanford, CA – California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Officer Armando Gallegos succumbed to injuries sustained line of duty on Sep. 14.
His death comes nearly five months after he was viciously attacked and beaten by multiple inmates at the Kern Valley State Prison.
Correctional Officer Gallegos, 56, was one of two correctional officers attacked by a dozen inmates in the minimum-support facility dayroom on April 21, KBAK reported at the time.
“Officer Gallegos was conducting a clothed body search on an inmate,” the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) said in a letter.
The inmate initially became “resistive,” then turned “combative” when Correctional Officer Gallegos attempted to handcuff him, the CCPOA said.
“Officer Gallegos was struck multiple times to his face, neck and head, as well as his body, and lost consciousness,” the CCPOA noted.
Other inmates joined in, and continued to assault Correctional Officer Gallegos and his coworker even as additional staff members rushed to their aid, KGET reported.
Prison staff deployed pepper spray and tore the inmates away from the injured officers.
The assault left him with broken vertebrae, bruising and swelling to his head and face, and a concussion, as well as a broken nose and multiple injuries to his hands and knees, KBAK reported.
The other injured correctional officer was treated for injuries to his face and hands, and was able to return to work several days later, KGET reported.
“Officer Gallegos has been home on leave since the brutal attack, trying to recover from the injuries and complications of them,” the CCPOA said.
On the evening of Sep. 14, Correctional Officer Gallegos “collapsed and became unresponsive,” according to the CCPOA.
He was rushed to a hospital in Hanford, and passed away a short while later.
“It appears his death is related to the injuries and stress caused by the attack, however official cause is pending a coroner’s report,” the CCPOA said.
“Our hearts are heavy from the passing of Officer Armando Gallegos,” California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Secretary Ralph Diaz said in a statement, according to the Bakersfield Californian. “Correctional officers like Armando put their lives on the line every day to keep our prisons and communities safe.”
The department had originally recommended that seven individuals determined to have been involved in the attack against him be charged with attempted homicide, the Visalia Times Delta reported.
The Kern County District Attorney’s office could potentially add a count of murder to the charges they are facing, but is awaiting the findings of an autopsy, the CDCR said.
Correctional Officer Gallegos joined the CDCR in 2005, after graduating from the Basic Correctional Officer Academy. He served at the Kern Valley State Prison for his entire career, the Visalia Times Delta reported.
"We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Irma, his family and friends, as well as our CDCR community, during this difficult time,” Diaz said.
Kern Valley State Prison Warden Christian Pfeiffer said the facility was “deeply saddened by Armando’s sudden and unexpected death,” KERO reported.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Gallegos family and all who were fortunate enough to have known Armando,” Warden Pfeiffer said. “He will truly be missed.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Officer Gallegos, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Correctional Officer Armando Gallegos, your life mattered.