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SALT LAKE CITY — A man formerly incarcerated in the Davis County Jail alleged in a federal lawsuit that jail deputies knew he had been stabbed by his cellmate, but took more than 20 minutes to respond to his cell.

In a civil rights complaint filed in federal court last month, a man claimed that his then-cellmate — 24-year-old James Afuakimoana Tamoua — stabbed him with a pencil several times on Oct. 5, 2018, in the Davis County Jail.

The man alleged that jail employees “took over 25 minutes to come to (his) aide after brutally getting stabbed and them knowing that the incident took place,” according to the federal complaint. He filed the federal complaint pro se, meaning he is representing himself in the case.

Because the man is considered to the victim of a crime, the Standard-Examiner is choosing not to name him publicly.

He went on to claim in the complaint that Tamoua was in “punitive isolation” before he was “carelessly” put in the general population of the jail. The man also indicated that because of the attack, he has “scars in (his) head with lead in them” and was prescribed medication to deal with symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.

The man requested compensation for the jail workers’ negligence and requested that the county pay for therapy classes and medication needed in connection with the incident. He did not state a specific dollar amount for damages.

Court records show that Tamoua was charged with one count of aggravated assault by a prisoner on Oct. 11, 2018, just days after he attacked the aforementioned victim. Charging documents say that Tamoua stabbed the man with a pencil multiple times and the attack was caught on a security camera. Tamoua later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in February and was sentenced to a probation term of five years.

This was not the only time Tamoua would be accused of attacking his cellmate.

While at the Utah State Prison serving a sentence on another charge, Tamoua was accused of murder after prison guards found his cellmate, Reo Watts, unresponsive on the night of Sept. 21. Charging documents say Watts was pronounced dead in the cell, and Tamoua allegedly told guards “I think I killed him” and “cuff me up.”

Medical examiners ruled that Watts died from strangulation and ruled the manner of his death was a homicide. Tamoua allegedly told investigators, “I choked him, flipped him over on to his stomach, put my arm around his neck, and I strangled him to death,” according to charging documents.

Tamoua was formally charged with one count of murder, a first-degree felony, on Nov. 15 in Salt Lake City’s 3rd District Court. The case has yet to be adjudicated.

The victim who filed the federal complaint against Davis County Jail workers was transferred to the Weber County Jail after the attack. As of Friday, the man was incarcerated at a federal prison in California.

Davis County officials had yet to respond to the allegations made in the lawsuit as of Friday.

Jacob Scholl is the Cops and Courts Reporter for the Standard-Examiner. Email him at and follow him on Twitter at @Jacob_Scholl.

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