CSPOA Investigates Ammon Bundy Incarceration Conditions

May 27, 2017

During the past few weeks the CSPOA has been receiving numerous calls and emails regarding some complaints made by Ammon Bundy that he was abused and tortured by correction officials at the Nevada Southern Detention Center (NSDC) in Pahrump, NV. The incident in question occurred on 5-2-17 at approximately 2230 hours.

Two of us from the CSPOA, former Sheriff Richard Mack and CSPOA VP and retired Mesa Police Officer Rick Dalton, traveled to Pahrump and met with Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly at her office at 0900 on May 20, 2017. Sheriff Wehrly shared with us the results of a criminal investigation conducted by her office regarding the accusations aired by inmate A. Bundy against the detention facility in which he is incarcerated. The review conducted by Dalton and me included written reports, an audio interview between Bundy and Sgt M. Eisenloffel (NCSO) and videos obtained by the NCSO from the NSDC.

After reviewing all this evidence for approx 4 hours, Sheriff Wehrly contacted the NSDC Warden and set up a meeting with her to discuss us meeting in person with A. Bundy. We then went to the NSDC and met in person with A. Bundy for about 35 minutes. The NSDC Warden and other personnel were very open and cooperative. They did not have to allow us a visitation with Bundy, but they bent over backwards to accommodate us.

Furthermore, Sheriff Wehrly was very cooperative and she likewise had no obligation to share her reports and evidence with us whatsoever. More importantly, Sheriff Wehrly is one of only a few sheriffs in this country who has the guts and wherewithal to investigate all possible crimes committed within her county. She did her job in an exemplary manner and is a credit to her position as the CLEO (Chief Law Enforcement Officer) of Nye County, NV.

As Sgt. Eisenloffel told Bundy during their conversation, this was a criminal investigation, not a policy review of the NSDC. His intent was to discover if a crime had been committed, not whether policies were violated.

After our (CSPOA) review of the evidence and our interview with A. Bundy, we have determined that the Nye County Sheriff conducted a thorough and professional investigation and that no crime had been committed by NSDC employees. Yes, several mistakes by the NSDC staff were discovered, and those will be addressed by us with the NSDC Warden.

We believe that some of Bundy's complaints about being strip searched too often and being left handcuffed in the shower cell for about 13 hours, contain some validity. However, Bundy could have been removed from the shower cell at any time by complying with the facility policies, but he refused to do so. This entire incident began because A. Bundy violated a policy about "tenting," which is a term that refers to placing inmate clothing in a certain position to block the view of security cameras. Bundy was very familiar with the policy against "tenting.” When a guard removed the shirt that was blocking the camera, Ryan Bundy, Ammon's brother, grabbed the shirt away from the guard in a very abrupt manner. This "attack" alarmed the guard and he called for back up. Ryan was removed from this area and taken to a segregated unit. Later this same guard was asked if he wanted to press charges against Ryan Bundy and the guard said that he did not wish to. Ryan very easily could have been charged, but the guard chose not to do so.

After Ryan was removed, Ammon became agitated and demanded to see where his brother was taken. He also demanded to check on his brother's well-being. His request was denied and Ammon was ordered back to his bed. He refused. He was then removed from the sleeping barracks area into the hallway. He was ordered to submit to restraints, which Ammon also refused to do. Therefore, he was forcibly handcuffed. Ammon was now going to be moved to a segregated cell which now required a change of clothing, which is done to classify inmates by which areas of the prison they are assigned to.

The shower cell was where the guards placed Bundy in order for him to change clothes. Policies require inmates to put their cuffed hands through a slot in the door for officers to remove the cuffs so the inmate can change clothes. Ammon again refused to do this. He was left in the shower cell for about 13 hours, but was asked approximately every 20 minutes if he would comply with the order to put his hands in the slot to be un-handcuffed. Bundy refused each time. At the 13 hour mark the extraction team entered the cell and took Bundy's handcuffs off and stripped him for the clothing change. There was no resistance by Ammon to this procedure and the officers did not use excessive force.

I also made several suggestions to A. Bundy as to how he could get along inside this prison that will make his stay a little easier and less stressful. He said he would consider some of my suggestions, but most he said he would not consider.

Our CSPOA review had nothing to do with Bundy's case for which he was arrested. We do not believe he or any of his family should have been arrested for anything they did at their ranch in the Spring of 2014. Our only purpose was to determine if any intentional abuse or torture was perpetrated by the NSDC staff against A. Bundy pursuant to the incident in question on 5-2-17. This entire incident was extremely well videoed, documented, and logged. When Bundy was subdued after refusing to cooperate, he was taken to a medical professional where he refused medical treatment. Then he was placed in a shower stall with no leg restraints, but still handcuffed for 13 hours. He appeared to have no serious injury of any kind. He actually complained of sore wrists and sore shoulders. Bundy was constantly checked on and monitored by NSDC staff and offered the chance to comply with requests every fifteen minutes or so to have his handcuffs removed. He refused each time.

Again, mistakes were made by some of the NSDC staff, but in our estimation, no crimes were committed.

The CSPOA wants to commend Sheriff Wehrly for doing her job and serving the people in Nye County in such a fair and professional manner. Her actions, and those of her staff, have been exemplary. Furthermore, Sheriff Wehrly is a life member of the CSPOA and has attended our training.

Richard I. Mack

Rick Dalton