Man Dies at Santa Clara County’s Main Jail; 3rd Death Since August

UPDATE: A source told the Mercury News Tuesday that the inmate was on suicide watch, but there were no apparent signs of suicide. At one point, correctional officers removed the inmate from his cell. Force may have been a factor in his death.

A month after an inmate’s fatal beating at Santa Clara County’s Main Jail, another inmate has been found dead.

Authorities reportedly found the 33-year-old man passed out in his cell late Monday morning. The man, whose name has not yet been released, was arrested twice this month on suspicion of assault, battery and public drunkenness.

This marks the jail’s third in-custody death since August.

On Aug. 27, 31-year-old Michael Tyree was found bloodied and beaten on the floor of his cell. Days later, three correctional officers—Jereh Lubrin, Matthew Farris and Rafael Rodriquez—were charged with murdering the mentally ill inmate who was locked up on a petty theft charge.

Four days after Tyree's death, a 50-year-old woman identified as Noriko Seales was found dead at Elmwood, the county's second jail in Milpitas. According to the Medical Examiner-Coroner, she died of natural causes. Specifically, of a stroke and hypertensive cardiovascular disease. Seales was a Menlo Park resident who had been locked up on drug-related charges.

The man found dead in his cell Monday was housed in a part of the jail with around-the-clock nursing staff, according to the Mercury News. A jail guard reportedly found him unresponsive around 10:30am. He tried to resuscitate him until paramedics arrived and took over.

Minutes after 11am, the inmate was pronounced dead. His death remains under investigation.

Tyree's death brought the county's Department of Corrections—a branch of the Sheriff's Office—under increased scrutiny. The Board of Supervisors convened a "blue ribbon" commission to conduct a top-down audit of local jails.

Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. James Jensen sent the following update Tuesday evening:

To ensure accurate information is provided to the public surrounding the September 28, 2015 death of an inmate in custody at the Santa Clara County Main Jail, we are releasing the following information. We will not be releasing any confidential information as this is prohibited by law and we will not be releasing the inmates name because as of now the next of kin have not been located.

At this time, we have no information about the cause of death. Any assumptions as to the cause of death is pure speculation until the Medical Examiner finishes their review. We expect that review to take place in the coming days.

On September 5 of this year, the inmate was arrested by Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputies for assaulting two individuals. The deceased stated at the time of the arrest that he had been assaulted.

After being taken into custody, the inmate assaulted a County employee.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested the inmate for that additional assault and booked him into the Main Jail.

On September 19, the inmate was released from custody after his time was served.

The next day, on September 20, the inmate was arrested by the Milpitas Police Department for two counts of assault and battery and drunk in public. He was booked into our Main Jail that day.

On September 21, during cell checks, the inmate refused to cooperate and he began hitting his door repeatedly with his fists. custody staff determined that the inmate should be moved to another section of the jail.

At approximately 8:48 PM, the inmate refused to comply with a verbal request by custody staff to vacate his cell.

For several minutes, custody staff attempted to talk to the inmate to encourage him to vacate his cell. They attempted to verbally gain compliance nine times. They were unsuccessful.

At approximately 10:15 PM, the decision was made that a physical extraction was necessary for the safety of the inmate.

At approximately 10:20 PM, custody staff implemented standard protocol for an inmate cell extraction.

Custody staff first deployed pepper spray to gain compliance. The pepper spray was unsuccessful.

Custody staff then deployed 2 bursts of “Clear Out,” a spray used to fill a room to help force an inmate out. Each burst was separated by 3 minutes. This was unsuccessful.

Custody staff then deployed three air-powered plastic projectiles, each one minute apart, to gain compliance. Again this was unsuccessful.

Custody staff then entered the cell to physically move the inmate.

Prior to the move at approximately 11:24 PM, The inmate was assessed.

At approximately 3:12 AM on September 22, the inmate was cleared to be returned to the main jail.

Upon returning to the main jail, the inmate was interviewed and placed in an appropriate area in the jail.

As I stated at the beginning. I am providing this information to ensure the public has an accurate depiction of what occurred. The cause of death of the inmate has yet to be determined by the Medical Examiner. We will not be releasing any more information at this time.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

2 Comments

  1. Due to a grand mal seizure, Santa Clara Jail Inmate ‘A’ was dizzy, nauseous, experiencing headaches, back pain and numbness in his lower extremities. He was unable to bear his weight and lay prostrate in a bed for several weeks. Moreover, Inmate ‘A’ was not provided with diapers or a wheelchair, despite his requests for and obvious need of the same. As a result, Inmate ‘A’s’ condition worsened, including that he has lost approximately 100 pounds. Furthermore, and despite his recognized disability, attorneys were denied access to their client, the client was denied a wheelchair for several months based on the Department of Correction’s ongoing refusal to provide their client with the wheelchair he needed to access them and to attend his Court hearings. This despite the attorney’s ongoing requests, and Inmate ‘A’s’ ongoing requests, for reasonable accommodations, including for a wheelchair and humane assistance in getting in and out of the same.
    Inmate ‘A’ has epilepsy per a board certified neurologist’s diagnosis. Epilepsy is recognized as a serious neurological disorder and as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. See, Merrigan v. Weinberger (1977) 426 F.Supp. 1149, 1152 (Epilepsy is a “serious neurological disorder”); Susie v. Apple Tree Preschool & Child Care Ctr., Inc. (1994) 866 F.Supp. 390, 395-396 (Epilepsy is a qualifying disability under the ADA); Vazquez v. Bedsole (1995) 888 F.Supp. 727, 731 (Epilepsy is a disability under the ADA); Bilal v. New York City Dept. of Corrections (2010) WL 1875731 (Citing to 42 U.S.C. § 12132 (Epilepsy is recognized as a “disability” under the ADA).

    On July 17, 2014 at 4:08 p.m., and in order to protect Inmate ‘A’s’ rights under the under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Civil Rights Act, attorney sent County Counsel a letter by email requesting that the client be provided with wheelchair assistance to access counsel and attend his hearings as ordered by the Court.

    On July 17, 2014, at 7:02 p.m., in apparent retaliation for said letter, Inmate ‘A’ was pepper sprayed for failing to obey order directing him to stand against the wall! Officer’s report, dated July 17, 2014 at 1902, i.e., 5:02 p.m., states:

    ON 7/17/2014 INMATE ‘A’ WAS ORDERED SEVERAL TIMES TO STAND AGAINST THE WALL WITH HIS HANDS BEHIND HIS BACK FOR WINDOW AND BAR CHECKS. INMATE ‘A’ REFUSED TO FOLLOW OUR ORDERS. PAIN COMPLIANCE AND PEPPER SPRAY WERE USED TO OVERCOME HIS PASSIVE RESISTENCE. INMATE ‘A’ CONTINUED TO IGNORE OUR ORDERS. INMATE A HAD URINATED AND DEFECATED ON HIS CELL FLOOR SEVERAL TIMES. INMATE A FAILED TO HAVE HIS IDENTIFICATION CARD ON HIS PERSON.

    Per subpoenaed video: Inmate ‘A’ was sprayed directly into this eyes with the officer using his fingers to open his eyes and spray it directly on the eye surface. Inmate ‘A; was handcuffed with his hands behind his back, the jail cell door was lock and Inmate ‘A’ was left for a prolonged period of time. He was then further tortured by both guards twisting his arms behind his back and hog tying him. It was at least one hour before he was taken to be doused with water. He was never given an eye bath. This was the second time within a few months that Inmate ‘A’ was pepper sprayed directly into his eyes resulting in permanent black spots in his vision and red capillaries on the whites of his eyes. It is very apparent from the muscle twitching in his back that the guards had destroyed muscle tissue.

    Please note that the United States Supreme Court has held that the ADA prohibits state prisons from discriminating against inmates on account of their disabilities. Pennsylvania Dep’t. of Corrections v. Yeskey (1998) 524 U.S. 206, 209-10. Please also note that subsequent to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Yeskey, the Ninth Circuit has held that the ADA requires correctional facilities to provide disabled inmates with reasonable accommodations, including qualified staff assistance enable them to attend required hearings. Armstrong v. Davis (2001) 275 F.3d 849, 856; Armstrong v. Brown (2013) 939 F.Supp.2d 1012, 1016. It should also be noted that the failure to provide an inmate with a wheelchair may constitute violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Coker v. Dallas County Jail (2009) 2009 WL 1953038.

    Since that time, Inmate ‘A’ has suffered heinous abuse at the hands of Santa Clara Jail staff:
    On January 3, 2015 and while sleeping on the floor, Inmate ‘A; was kicked by Officer X. The kick was so violent, Inmate ‘A’s’ head slammed against the concrete wall. Two subsequent urine tests revealed blood in his urine. Inmate A’s neck pain became unbearable. He filled out numerous medical requests for hospital evaluations.
    Inmate ‘A’ filed a formal complaint about the assault asking for federal protection. The supervising officer moved Inmate ‘A’ to the tuberculosis section of the infirmary. Inmate ‘A’ has never been diagnosed with tuberculosis. He was placed naked in an all-white isolation cell with cold forced air blowing 24/7. His health deteriorated further. He was never allowed to leave the cell. The water to his cell was turned off. Eventually, he was covered with sores from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. When he was taken to one of his court hearings, he asked his attorney to take photos of the red pus filled sores on his legs. 4 Santa Clara deputies approached the attorney and demanded that he delete the photos from his iphone. When Inmate ‘A’s’ temperature elevated, he was taken to Regional Hospital where the attending physician lanced the large pus filled sore. He was tested for sepsis. On the return trip back to the jail, he was lifted into the van and placed face first onto the floor. The wound bled through his bandage as can be witnessed on the video.
    On August 4, 2014, an eye witnessed “pain compliance” event occurred. Again, Inmate ‘A’ was asked to stand. Inmate ‘A’ had not been able to stand since the March 26, 2014 after experiencing the tonic clonic seizure. Approximately 6 guards came into Inmate ‘A’ cell. Two guards stood on Inmate ‘A’s’ bunk. They twisted his arms up behind his back and high above his head lifting him off the bed. They used a yawara tool to denude the flesh from his leg. When Inmate ‘A’ screamed in pain, they took the tool and pressed it against his throat attempting to silence him. Two inmates have given eye witness accounts of this horror.
    On September 24, 2015, Inmate ‘A’ was to be transported to court. Two deputies crushed his neck into the bed with the wheelchair. When Inmate ‘A’ defecated from the pain, the guards smeared the feces on his face. They stated, “Tyree will not help you. We will kill you.”
    This information and videos have been sent to the presiding judge. The Gulag sadistic behavior is systematic at Santa Clara Jail and is approved at the highest level under the guise of “pain compliance”. ISIS terrorists must have been trained at the Santa Clara Jail.

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