Richard Tavera was sentenced to three years in prison by a Georgia judge. Surveillance footage reveals that four correctional officers stood by a watched as he hung himself.

Richard Tavera Mugshot

Richard Tavera Mugshot. Image Source: My AJC

These videos are being used as evidence against the prison guards. It’s proof that they didn’t intervene in December 2014 when the 24-year-old Georgia inmate took his own life.

While housed in the Smith State Prison isolation-segregation unit, the Austin man used a makeshift noose and used it to commit suicide in prison.

Mother Says Guards Watched as Richard Tavera Committed Suicide in Prison

The videos show that the Smith State Prison guards saw what Richard Tavera was up to in his cell. But, they did nothing to help the troubled inmate until it was too late.

It took over seven minutes for the four correctional officers to gather outside his cell. By this time, Tavera was already dead.

But, according to reports, the prison guards had been warned that Tavera was in the process of committing suicide in his prison cell.

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Instead of helping the man, who had a history of mental health issues, they just stood around doing nothing. Tavera’s prison suicide led to his mother, Maria Arenas, filing multiple federal lawsuits.

The Austin prison mom filed federal suits in both Texas and Georgia. She claims that various employees of the Georgia Department of Corrections let him die by suicide. And, this is a violation of the young man’s civil rights.

Georgia Department of Corrections nurse's assessment report on Dec. 6, 2014.

Georgia Department of Corrections nurse’s assessment report on Dec. 6, 2014. Image Source: My AJC

Videos Reveal Prison Guards Watched Tavera Create the Makeshift Noose

According to court documents, two officers could actually see Tavera. They observed him take one of his bed sheet and loop it around the ceiling sprinkler. Then, he looped the other end around his neck.

Until a lieutenant arrived, the third officer on the scene, the cell door was never opened to check on the prisoner. Recovered as evidence in the lawsuit, were videos taken by:

  • Surveillance cameras outside Richard Tavera’s cell
  • Handheld camera footage shot by an officer after the cell was finally opened

After watching the videos, this is how it appears to have unfolded… Before Tavera’s cell door was opened, four correctional officers were already there on the scene.

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When they finally decided to open the door, the inmate’s body was limp, hanging lifeless from the ceiling.

Richard Tavera pictured with two kids in a family photo.

Richard Tavera pictured with two kids in a family photo. Image Source: My AJC

No one even had the tools they needed to quickly cut his body down.

Jeff Edwards, one of prison mom Maria Arenas’ attorneys, said that the videos are proof that Richard Tavera’s prison suicide was preventable. He notes:

“Correctional officers aren’t supposed to let people die in front of them, let alone four officers.”

Video: Surveillance from Smith State Prison as Tavera Hangs Himself in Georgia’s Smith State Prison

This surveillance video taken inside the Smith State Prison isolation-segregation unit. It was taken in December 2014, the night 24-year-old Richard Tavera committed prison suicide by hanging himself in his cell.

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Kiesha Joseph is the owner of Content Marketing Geek Corporation. Her company provides white hat, inbound marketing services for small businesses, entrepreneurs, real estate professionals, bloggers and authors. Ms. Joseph enjoys swimming, cooking, eating, dancing, and of course writing. Kiesha is currently the managing content editor for Prison Rideshare Network news for inmates' loved ones.