Three Santa Clara County sheriff’s jail deputies in California were each charged with murder Tuesday in the beating death of inmate Michael Tyree.
Investigators say Tyree, 31, was being held on misdemeanor drug and theft charges in a wing of the jail for those in protective custody or who have special needs – when at around 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 26 – he was confronted by deputy Jereh Lubrin and ate some prescription medication that he put in to his pocket during med calls.
Around two hours latter, Lubrin was joined by deputy Matthew Ferris and deputy Rafael Rodriguez, and the officers began searching inmates’ cells for contraband before they confronted inmate Juan Villa about a dispute he had had with another inmate earlier in the day.
The officers reportedly brutalized Villa by hitting him in the head and twisting his arms, leaving visible marks, before they made their way to the cell of Tyree.
What exactly transpired inside the cell is unclear but Tyree was heard begging the officers to stop during “minutes of screaming, thumping, wall-banging and ‘what sounded like blows to a person’s body’ [that] were heard throughout the cell unit,” Sgt. Marc Carrasco said.
Tyree sustained brutal injuries to his eye, chin, cheek, arms, legs, back and hips, Carrasco said, who added that a blow delivered to the mans lower left back caused significant damage to his spleen and liver, leading to internal bleeding.
Tyree reportedly died within minutes to an hour after the beating with the deputies refusing to call for medical aid as they resumed their search of inmates’ cells.
The man was latter discovered dead in his cell – by Lubrin – at around midnight before the deputy radioed that he had found Tyree unresponsive, naked and covered in feces.
“Michael Tyree was not protected by those correctional officers who were supposed to protect him,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “Instead, they killed him and we have now charged them with murder.”
Deputy Rodriguez has publicly denied any involvement in the beating and Lubrin and Ferris have made no comment on the charges.