An informant who helped bring down a crooked cop was beaten unconscious by other inmates while at San Luis Obispo County Jail last month, according to reports filed by the Sheriff’s Office.
Now those four inmates face felony assault and battery charges.
Kip Holland, 49, of Atascadero, and his girlfriend reported to the FBI in January 2013 that Cory Pierce, an officer with the San Luis Obispo Police Department and a member of the Sheriff’s Office’s narcotics task force, had used them as indentured servants.
According to Holland and his girlfriend, Pierce forced Holland to buy and sell drugs for him and forced Holland’s girlfriend to have sex with him.
Pierce, 41, eventually pleaded guilty to extortion and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Holland, who has been in and out of jail, was back in jail March 19 on a probation violation. On March 21, while Holland was still in custody, The Tribune published a story about a lawsuit he settled with the city and county of San Luis Obispo over the Pierce matter.
Holland and his girlfriend, the story noted, had settled for $25,000.
The Tribune is not naming Holland’s girlfriend because it is the general policy of The Tribune to not identify victims of sexual abuse.
The next day, according to a police report prepared by the Sheriff’s Office, Holland was awakened by inmates, who told him he needed to get up and “talk about new house rules.”
Holland said he was then “pummeled” so hard that he was knocked out. During the attack, he said, several inmates punched him and he lost consciousness multiple times.
After deputies responded to Holland’s calls for help, multiple inmates in Holland’s cell were found to have blood on their hands and elevated pulse rates, according to the report. Holland was treated at a local hospital for a laceration above his right eye that required 11 stitches.
According to the police report, there was no video surveillance that captured the attack.
Four inmates were eventually charged with battery with serious bodily injury and assault likely to produce great bodily injury. Those defendants, who appeared in San Luis Obispo Superior Court for an arraignment Wednesday, were Joshua Arthur Bradshaw, 22; Mikhael Velez Young, 29; Joshua Nickolas Dollins, 37; and Cameron Evan Stumbo, 34.
All four pleaded not guilty and currently have a trial date set for June 22.
During an interview with investigators, Holland noted that he found out after the attack that the story about the settlement, describing him as an informant, had been in the newspaper. Prior to the attack, he said, no one had threatened him or commented about him being in the paper, “which would have caused him to be in fear for his safety.”
While informants are generally placed in protective custody, Holland was not.
“When Holland came into custody, he did not report being involved in the Pierce case,” read a statement by Tony Cipolla, a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office, “nor did he disclose in the classification interview any concern for his safety or request protective custody.”
Holland had not asked to be in protective custody during a January arrest either, according to the reports.
The Sheriff’s Office did not respond to further questions about protective custody procedures or the video surveillance in the Holland case.
Holland was one of eight men that had been in the cell.
One of the alleged attackers told investigators the news about Holland being an informant came from an inmate in a neighboring cell — one that typically houses inmates who have done prison time.
After that, according to the reports, Bradshaw said, “We got a problem ... that dude is an FBI informant.”
Bradshaw has a prior assault conviction, according to the criminal complaint filed by the District Attorney’s Office, while Young has a prior robbery conviction. Dollins has priors for forgery and receiving a stolen vehicle.
A day after Holland was attacked, he pleaded no contest to forging, falsifying or altering a driver’s license, according to court records. Charges of burglary and petty theft were dismissed.
He is not currently in the jail.
Pierce, who joined the San Luis Obispo Police Department in 2006, is scheduled to be released from a residential re-entry management center on May 16.
According to Holland’s lawsuit, he and his girlfriend first came in contact with Pierce in March 2011, when Holland was arrested for possessing heroin during a traffic stop. Pierce kept in touch and eventually asked the girlfriend to obtain painkillers for him.
Over time, Pierce demanded heroin. In return, Pierce tipped off Holland and his girlfriend to police investigations so they could avoid being arrested and kept them addicted to drugs.
After the informants reported Pierce to the FBI, Holland agreed to secretly record a conversation with Pierce during which Pierce demanded Holland buy and sell drugs for him.