Los Angeles County, CA – Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva released video on Monday that showed inmates in a county jail deliberately trying to infect themselves with coronavirus (video below).
Sheriff Villanueva said the surveillance video was filmed at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic on April 26 and explained the sudden 60 percent rise in coronavirus cases in one week in that facility, KCBS reported.
The sheriff called the behavior demonstrated by the inmates on the video “deeply disturbing.”
The video showed inmates deliberately sharing a water bottle that had been used by someone who tested positive for coronavirus, KCBS reported.
The inmates also passed around a mask that had been worn by an infected person and rubbed it on their noses and mouths, the video showed.
“There was some mistaken belief among the inmate population that if they tested positive, there was a way to force our hand and somehow release more inmates out of our jail environment, and that’s not gonna happen,” Sheriff Villanueva said.
Los Angeles County has already reduced its jail population from 17,000 to 11,700 in order to fight the spread of the pandemic in its facilities, KCBS reported.
The sheriff said that at one point in the video, the inmates passed around a hot water bottle immediately before having their temperatures checked by the nurse in an effort to demonstrate symptoms of the virus.
“With the hot water, they were trying to falsely elevate their temperature readings to generate a symptom for COVID-19,” he explained.
Sheriff Villanueva said that within a week of the video, an additional 21 inmates in the Pitchess facility tested positive, KCBS reported.
“Then all of a sudden we saw a spike, a few weeks, ago, a very noticeable jump, and we couldn’t really understand why, when everything seemed to be going the way we wanted to,” he said.
That’s when the authorities went back and reviewed video footage to look for the cause and found the bizarre scene the sheriff released to the public on May 11.
Sheriff Villanueva was furious about what happened, KCBS reported.
“There’s a reason why these people are behind bars to begin with, because they violated the norms of society,” he said. “But to then imperil not only their only safety, but the safety of their fellow inmates who did not want to participate in this behavior. It also endangers all the personnel, both the professional staff and the sworn staff.”
As of May 11, 357 inmates in Los Angeles County jails have tested positive for coronavirus, KCBS reported.
Watch video of the inmates infecting themselves here below: