Public Defender Raises Questions about Correctional Officer’s Testimony 

By Ramneet Singh

WOODLAND, CA – Judge Tom Dyer this week in Yolo County Superior Court heard testimony by a correctional officer about three alleged incidents of “gassing” committed by the accused—but Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira questioned contradictions in the testimony and the legality of disciplinary measures.

On the court calendar, the accused had three counts of felony “battery committed by gassing,” two battery misdemeanors, and one prior serious felony convictions enhancement set for further jury trial. There was another case set for FYI related to two counts of misdemeanor vandalism.

The hearing’s only witness was correctional Officer Richard Tauriac.

The majority of the hearing concerned battery by “gassing” between Jan.13-14, 2022.

After being asked about what gassing is, Tauriac responded “an inmate takes a liquid…of like urine or feces and basically throws it on another person.”

When asked to describe the first instance, he stated he was serving lunch and “I gave it to him and as I am going to close the food slot in the door, I had a liquid thrown on me.” It hit his face and shirt, he testified.

He later described that “it was a warm liquid,” but he noted that he was not sure what it was. He also stated that it was a “brownish yellow” and that “it definitely smelled like urine.”

Tauriac replied that the accused told him “that’s chihuahua piss bad boy.” He later stated the accused referred to him as “captain chihuahua.”

Tauriac stated the accused “was very angry and agitated.” He described his behavior as similar throughout the incidents.

The prosecutor asked about the second incident, where Tauriac delivered the paperwork to the accused for a signature.

Allegedly, the accused had put a bag under the door and gassed him with what “appeared to be feces.”

In this incident, the accused allegedly told Tauriac “how do you like that bad boy? I got you again, it’s definitely piss this time.”

The third incident was on Jan. 14 and Tauriac stated he was gassed during breakfast. He responded that he did not remember the specifics because of how long ago it was.

Deputy Public Defender Sequeira moved to strike it due to his being non-responsive and this was sustained. She asked the court to consider the “competency of testimony” of the officer.

In this incident, Tauriac explained the accused allegedly used a bag underneath the door to gas him, and that “it smelled like feces.”

In the cross-examination, DPD Sequeira asked “how many times have you and your peers talked about what would be discussed at the trial and the preliminary hearing and things of that nature?”

Tauriac said he did not recall. He affirmed he had talked to other witnesses about the case, even during the period of it being litigated.

DPD Sequeira asked “you talked about what was expected of you during testimony…you talked about what the district attorney would need to try to prove these charges?”

DPD Sequeira moved to strike his entire testimony because Tauriac had spoken with witnesses after their testimony and they had a conversation off the record.

Afterwards, Tauriac clarified he talked with other officers about other things.

Tauriac acknowledged the accused was a “security risk” and he had known of prior allegations that he would throw liquid. The officer confirmed he did not notice anything suspicious prior to giving the accused lunch.

Tauriac confirmed no one attempted to obtain the cup for evidence, acknowledging that they had the ability to search the accused’s cell at his discretion. Later in the hearing, there was some confusion on whether or not someone searched the cell in between the first and second incident.

DPD Sequeira asked about Tauriac’s conversation with the deputy, and read the statement “the liquid was dark in color and smelled like coffee.”

Sequeira noted the preliminary hearing testimony where he made similar statements about the smell of coffee and the accused has the ability to make coffee.

The PD then noted how Tauriac thought it was urine due to what the accused had told him.

DPD Sequeira discussed Tauriac’s comments about the accused’s behavior. She noted his 23-and-a-half-hour lockdown and had questions about his medication, and Tauriac could not confirm when the last time was that the accused had his medications.

Sequeira pointed out that at some point after the incidents, Tauriac was told they could no longer enforce a disciplinary diet, and Sequeira asked “were you told when that law passed that you had been violating by doing it?”

He stated that he did not. He confirmed that he did not know of the timeline of that law.

For the second incident, Tauriac confirmed he saw the bag after the fact. Before he approached the door, he did not see it.

Concerning the rule violation, DDA Sequeira asked, “When you have a hearing…do you have evidence?” Tauriac stated that he does not, but he clarifies that it was usually surveillance evidence.

Tauriac affirmed that they had surveillance for the second incident but that we had not seen it.

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