Three Santa Clara County prison guards have been arrested over the “brutal murder” of a mentally ill inmate.
The inmate who was found dead in his cell had suffered from internal bleeding and multiple blunt force injuries.
RT reports: “The disappointment and disgust that I feel cannot be overstated,” said Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith in a statement on Thursday after the arrests were made. She added that the correctional officers killed “an unarmed individual they were entrusted to protect.”
The three officers were identified as Rafael Rodriguez, 27, Jereh Lubrin, 28, and Matthew Farris, 27. The sheriff’s office is recommending that they be charged with murder, assault under color of authority and conspiracy, according to the San Jose Mercury News, and are being held without bail. They are currently on unpaid leave and are scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday.
The inmate was identified as 31-year-old Michael James Tyree. The county medical examiner, Dr. Joseph O’Hara, determined that Tyree’s death was a homicide whose injures – multiple blunt force trauma, visceral lacerations and internal bleeding – were caused by another individual or more, the Associated Press reported.
— David Louie (@abc7david) September 3, 2015
Last Thursday morning, Tyree was found dead in his cell, though it was determined that he died the previous night.
“A correctional deputy was doing a welfare check, came across an inmate who was unresponsive,” said Sgt. James Jensen of the Santa Clara Co. Sheriff’s Office to CBS San Francisco. “He called for other deputies. Medical aid was rendered, fire and paramedics were called, and they pronounced our inmate deceased at the scene in the jail.”
The correctional officers were carrying out a clothing check during the time when Tyree suffered the various injuries documented by the medical examiner. Citing an unnamed source, the Mercury News reported that the officers did not immediately report their use of force, which they are required to do, or try to find medical aid for Tyree.
The officers did not state that any use of force occurred until after Tyree’s dead body was found. Afterwards, they stated that Tyree had refused to take medication.
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) September 3, 2015
Tyree was also scheduled to be moved to a mental health facility. A few days prior, he pleaded no contest to petty theft, according to the Mercury News.