An additional four inmates at West Valley detention center in Rancho Cucamonga, administered by the San Bernardino County sheriff's department, have filed suit against individual deputies and against John McMahon. The suit makes similar allegations to the prior lawsuit--gratuitous tazering, death threats, and sexual abuse. There is some more information in this article published in today's Daily Bulletin.
More inmates file suit, alleging abuse at West Valley Detention Center
By Greg Cappis, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
POSTED: 05/29/14, 10:08 PM PDT | UPDATED: 2 DAYS AGO 11 COMMENTS
RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> Four more inmates have filed a federal lawsuit alleging abuse by San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies, and more complaints are expected to be submitted to the court in the near future, according to a lawyer representing men who served time at West Valley Detention Center, a county jail.
The most recent suit, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Riverside, reflects allegations made in a suit submitted earlier this month on behalf of six inmates and further states that prisoners who met with lawyers have been threatened by deputies.
“On at least one occasion, a prisoner was told, ‘I am not afraid of your (expletive) lawsuit. I will beat your ass,’” according to the lawsuit filed Thursday.
Jim Terrell, one of three lawyers representing the inmates, said he has 40 clients in total and will be filing more lawsuits in the coming weeks.
The civil litigations follow an April announcement by the FBI and Sheriff Jim McMahon, who said both agencies are investigating claims of civil-rights violations at West Valley Detention Center, which is run by the Sheriff’s Department. The FBI is conducting a criminal investigation, while the Sheriff’s Department is conducting an administrative investigation.
The day before the announcement, McMahon fired three rookie deputies who worked at the jail — Brock Teyechea, Andrew Cruz and Nicholas Oakley — and has since said, “this appears to be an isolated incident in one part of the facility.”
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Bachman declined comment Friday about the newest lawsuit, saying, “We don’t typically comment on pending civil litigation.”
The sheriff’s belief that the incident leading to the firing of the three deputies was an isolated one “hasn’t changed,” she said.
Terrell, the inmates’ attorney, said Friday he believes abuse at the jail is widespread, having been passed down from deputy to deputy.
He said of McMahon’s reference to an isolated incident: “That’s not true. That is deceptive and dishonest. That is not the truth.”
The three deputies who were dismissed were named in the suit filed in early May along with McMahon, the jail’s commander, Jeff Rose, three other deputies and two civilian employees.
Thursday’s lawsuit names McMahon, Rose, Cruz, Teyechea, four other deputies identified only by their last names — Ramos, Howell, Kopasz, Escomilla — and the county as defendants.
The inmates named as plaintiffs in the suit are Michael Bishop, Paul Piceno, Michael Castro and Edward Garcia.
Each man is asking for $15 million in damages, plus attorney fees and other related costs.
According to the suit, Bishop served time for second-degree burglary and possession of a controlled substance from Oct. 28, 2012, until March 4 at West Valley Detention Center, where, in order to keep his job as a food server and custodian, deputies shocked him with a stun gun for seven seconds at a time.
Deputies, the suit alleges, “chicken winged” Piceno — handcuffed him with his arms up — then slammed him into a wall or floor and put a shotgun to his head “for no reason at all.” He has been in custody since Jan. 25 and is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to second-degree burglary, the suit says.
Castro was locked up at West Valley Detention Center in March 2013 for violating probation, according to the suit. Since then, he has been shocked with a stun gun at least 20 times by deputies, was denied medication, was told to tear up a grievance form and was deprived of sleep by loud music and deputies kicking his door, according to the suit.
The suit says Garcia has been at West Valley Detention Center awaiting trial since March 2013. Since then, he has been sodomized by a deputy’s finger, threatened with a stun gun and denied a grievance form, according to the lawsuit.
“Defendant Ramos once told Mr. Garcia that ‘if we give you a grievance form and you complete it, you will regret it,’” the suit says.