San Jose Jailers Charged in Inmate’s Murder

     SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said she could not overstate her “disappointment and disgust” over the murder of a jail inmate, allegedly at the hands of jailers last month.
     During a news conference this past week, Smith said 31-year-old Michael Tyree’s life “had value” and said correctional officers Jereh Lubrin, 28, and Matthew Farris and Rafael Rodriguez, both 27, had been on suspicion of murder, assault under color of authority, and conspiracy.
     Tyree was in a wing typically reserved for inmates in protective custody or those with special needs, Smith said. During a routine closing search, all inmates were locked in their cells and the three suspects were the only people in the wing and who last had contact with the man, Smith said.
     About an hour later Lubrin reported a man down and Tyree – a schizophrenic homeless man who had just finished a 5-day sentence for petty theft – was found naked and covered in feces and vomit. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful, Smith said.
     The sheriff said the officers were each given an opportunity to give a statement and they each declined. They were booked in the main jail and given no special treatment.
     All three are on unpaid administrative leave as result of their arrests.
     On Aug. 31, county medical examiner Dr. Joseph O’Hara determined Tyree’s death was the result of internal bleeding due to blunt-force trauma, Smith said.
     Tyree had been waiting to be transferred to a treatment center for mental illness at the time of his murder.
     On Tuesday, the three correctional deputies were officially charged in Tyree’s death. The charging document also alleges the guards assaulted another inmate moments before entering Tyree’s cell.
     In a jailhouse interview over the weekend, Rodriguez told the San Jose Mercury News that he never touched Tyree. He said Smith’s department had relied on hearsay from other inmates and made things up.
     “It sucks being in here for something I didn’t do,” Rodriguez told the newspaper.
     The sheriff’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.

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