Rodney DeLong, Jr., was murdered two minutes after being put in the same cell as a convicted murderer affiliated with the Aryan Brotherhood.
The California Department and Corrections and Rehabilitation has agreed to settle a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed by the family of a man who was murdered less than half an hour after being detained in the same cell as a prolific and violent criminal.
Corresponding The Mercury News, the family of Rodney DeLong, Jr., announced the settlement earlier this month.
The agreement, comments The Mercury NewsHe came shortly after a judge ruled that several of the guards named in the lawsuit could not claim “qualified immunity.”
Qualified immunity refers to legal doctrine that protects government agencies and employees from civil liability when a case or complaint relates to an incident that occurred in the course of their normal and expected duties.
DeLong, adds the news, was stabbed to death by 44-year-old Aryan Brotherhood member Robert Stockton in May 2018. DeLong was being held at the High Desert State Prison near Susanville, California at the time.
While the prison’s Strategic Offender Management System (SOMS) showed DeLong was listed as a known “enemy” of the Aryan Brotherhood, he was nonetheless placed in the same cell as Stockton, who was serving a life sentence for murder.
the Denver Post cites the DeLong family’s lawsuit stating that prison staff knew or should have known that the Aryan Brotherhood expected its members to be forced to attack an enemy of the organization immediately – and if they did not, they would become violent themselves Retaliate.
“The AB’s planned attacks and violence against their enemies (such as DeLong) have long been pervasive and well-documented, so the defendants and each of them knew that DeLong’s placement with a member of the AB posed a significant threat to his or her health and safety Security, ”wrote attorney Eugene Chitock in the lawsuit.
DeLong was stabbed to death minutes after he was put in his new cell.
In a September ruling, a federal judge ruled that prison guards could not invoke qualified immunity defense if allegations of negligent cell placement were later confirmed.
“If the plaintiffs’ allegations are held to be true at the pleading stage, a reasonable official could conclude that the SOMS did not prior to the placement of Stockton and [DeLong] together would submit [DeLong] a significant risk of damage, ”wrote US District Judge Troy Nunley in a September ruling. “Because the protection of the Eighth Amendment from willful indifference to the health and safety of inmates is an established constitutional right … Defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity.”
In a separate article, The Mercury News notes that Stockton’s name was mentioned regularly during a 2019 extortion case filed by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California.
The case, against the leadership of the Aryan Brotherhood, claims that Stockton murdered another 20-year-old inmate on the orders of another gang member in 2016, allegedly because the victim was in drug debt.
DeLong says The Denver Post, had served a sentence for burglary and had only seven months left of his sentence when he was killed.
At a parole hearing in 2019, Stockton denied any involvement with the Aryan Brotherhood, saying he was an active member “by name only”.