Guards’ attack caused stillbirth, ex-inmate alleges
A former female inmate alleges she lost her unborn baby earlier this year after she was "taken down" by a prison guard and assaulted while detained at the Oahu Community Correctional Center.
Leah Castro, 22, filed a lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court alleging, among other charges, civil rights violations and assault. She is seeking damages to be determined at trial.
Louise Kim McCoy, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety, said they have not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.
The suit names defendants Debra Pimental and Ted Choy Foo, prison guards at OCCC and the state Public Safety Department.
According to the suit, Castro claims she and Pimental were having a verbal nonthreatening exchange on June 30, when Foo forced her to the ground. Castro, who was about seven months pregnant at the time, said she was "forcibly restrained and battered" by the guards and yelled out in pain, the complaint said.
Other inmates who witnessed the incident yelled to the guards that Castro was pregnant, to no avail, the suit alleges.
Castro said she reported her injuries, which included vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain and discomfort, to various OCCC employees but was not provided medical care.
She delivered her 8-month-old fetus stillborn at Kapiolani Medical Center on Aug. 10. Cause of death included fetal stress/hypoxia, according to medical records. The baby would have been her first.
Castro alleges the prison was negligent in hiring, supervising and training employees to handle pregnant inmates and their medical complaints.
Castro was charged with felony assault stemming from this same incident in which Pimental accused Castro of kicking her in the face and stomach.
The court files in that case do not mention any injuries suffered by Castro or that she was pregnant.
According to court files, Pimental was moving another inmate to another cell when Castro confronted her about the change. Castro was ordered to return to her own cell but refused. When Castro stepped toward Pimental in an "aggressive manner," Foo said that he stepped between the two, and that was when Castro allegedly kicked Pimental in the stomach. Both guards attempted to restrain Castro, but as Pimental was trying to put her in handcuffs, Castro allegedly kicked her in the face.
Castro claimed that Pimental had been harassing and provoking her. She later denied assaulting the female guard and that she did not remember kicking Pimental. She maintained that Pimental returned and attacked her, taking her down. Castro is awaiting trial Dec. 3.
Castro has been convicted and has served time for breaking into a car, harassment and criminal trespassing. She had her probation revoked at least three times for failure to follow conditions of probation. Her attorney in the criminal matter could not be reached for comment.