Sheriff Left Civilian Jail Watchdogs in Dark After Gang Beating of Police Informant

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Moments earlier a confidential constabulary informant was brutally beaten by dozens of men wrong Clara County’s Elmwood Jail past year, Sureno pack members confronted the informant with a signaling of him speaking to detectives successful a homicide probe a fewer years earlier, according to aggregate sources acquainted with the case.

Jail Surveillance video obtained by NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit intelligibly shows what happens next. In plain presumption of information cameras and a defender station, 31 men wrong the jail’s Sureno dorm motorboat a viscous onslaught connected the informant – besides a chap pack member. The video shows the informant being beaten for astir six minutes earlier his attackers locomotion away. Deputies don't participate the dorm for astir different minute, the video shows.

The incidental raises questions astir however the the informant was exposed successful the archetypal spot and however an onslaught involving dozens of radical wrong a abstraction being monitored by cameras and guards could past truthful agelong earlier jailhouse deputies took notice.

Further complicating this case, NBC Bay Area has confirmed that the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office near civilian jailhouse watchdogs successful the acheronian for months astir the incident. That, region officials say, is simply a problem.

“I became alert of the jailhouse battle incidental erstwhile I came crossed a quality study of it,” said Michael Gennaco, caput of the Office of Correction and Law Enforcement Monitoring (OCLEM) for Santa Clara County. “Ideally, arsenic the show for Santa Clara instrumentality enforcement, we would person been notified of this incidental successful existent time.”

While the beating happened successful November, 2020, quality reports of the incidental didn't aboveground until May, erstwhile the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office announced indictments against 31 men accused of being progressive successful the attack.

OCLEM was created to show region jails and instrumentality enforcement successful the aftermath of inmate Michael Tyree’s beating decease astatine the hands of 3 Santa Clara County jailhouse guards successful 2015. OCLEM was designed to respond to incidents specified arsenic this and suggest corrective action. But region officials accidental Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith inactive refuses to motion an accusation sharing statement with civilian monitors.


“OCLEM [The Office of Correction and Law Enforcement Monitoring] arsenic a monitoring entity can’t truly execute its functions without this accusation sharing,” said Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams. “That’s an important happening that needs to get resolved.”

Retired Santa Clara County Judge LaDoris Cordell, who chaired the region supervisor-appointed Blue-Ribbon Commission that recommended hundreds of jailhouse reforms aft Tyree was killed, says it’s wide Sheriff Smith and jailhouse medication inactive request much oversight.

“The full thought was truthful that these kinds of things, radical getting killed oregon being hurt, would not happen, either to the guards oregon to the inmates,” Cordell said. “And look what has happened.”

Beyond the standoff betwixt the Sheriff and OCLEM, Cordell called the informant’s beating “totally unacceptable.”

“It’s either ineptitude oregon deliberate indifference,” Cordell said.

Santa Clara County’s Sheriff’s Office did not respond to requests from NBC Bay Area to sermon wherefore it took truthful agelong for deputies to respond to the attack. The Sheriff’s Office wouldn’t reply questions astir wherefore section officials ne'er reported the incidental to Gennaco’s group. In May, the Sheriff’s Office sent a connection responding to a erstwhile NBC Bay Area communicative connected the incident, saying successful part:

“This incidental began successful a distant portion of 1 of our ‘Indirect Supervision’ dorms, which means the lawman is stationed extracurricular of the lodging area. Staff assigned to these posts are often liable for multi-tasking and conducting different non-supervision duties, which typically hap retired of eyesight of those incarcerated.”

The surveillance video obtained by NBC Bay Area shows the beating, but it doesn’t explicate however the informant’s individuality was exposed oregon wherefore helium was enactment into a jailhouse dorm with radical who present knew helium was an informant. Grand assemblage grounds that led to indictments against each 31 alleged attackers mightiness assistance reply those questions, but truthful far, the transcript of those proceedings hasn’t been made public.

Here’s what we bash know:

In precocious 2020, connected the evening of November 30, a antheral successful a agleam greenish garment is led by deputies into the Sureno pack dorm astatine Elmwood Jail aft a caller arrest. The man, 40, is simply a pack subordinate himself, according to prosecutors. They accidental the antheral gave accusation to constabulary a fewer years backmost during a execution investigation.

At first, thing seems retired of the mean and he’s greeted with handshakes by different men successful the dorm. But a fewer minutes later, he’s led to the backmost of the dorm by different man.

Though it’s pugnacious to spot what’s happening connected the jailhouse surveillance video, aggregate sources adjacent to the lawsuit archer NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit that’s wherever the informant is confronted with the signaling of him speaking to detectives, a signaling the unfortunate didn’t cognize existed.

Turns retired the antheral facing charges successful that execution is housed successful the aforesaid jailhouse dorm and had received a transcript of the signaling connected a jail-issued machine tablet arsenic portion of the pre-trial find process.

It doesn’t instrumentality agelong for the beating to begin.

“I tin spot perfectly nary crushed wherefore that should person happened,” said Adam Bercovici, a retired lieutenant from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide division.

Bercovici said erstwhile informants get exposed, it tin person dire consequences, for informants and for instrumentality enforcement agencies that usage them.

“You person to person a estimation that you support your informants, that they’re not going to get injured oregon killed oregon assaulted due to the fact that of the enactment that they do,” said Bercovici, who present does consulting work.

The witnesser survived the beating, but suffered breached bones, according to prosecutors. The video shows him being kicked, punched, stomped, and dragged crossed the dorm, near bare and bloody until deputies yet arrive.

“Every time present [the informant] is successful information due to the fact that he’s been outed,” Bercovici said. “And erstwhile that’s happened, it’s truly hard to travel backmost from. I mean, it’s astir intolerable successful that civilization to travel backmost from. He’s done. He’s going to person to reinvent himself and get retired of there.”

All 31 defendants successful the beating person entered not blameworthy pleas to the transgression indictments handed down by the expansive jury.

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