In wake of FBI probe, lawsuit alleges West Valley inmate abuse
May 08, 2014 2:21 PM
SHEA JOHNSON, STAFF WRITER

Lawsuit: Click here to read the full complaint.

A $135-million federal lawsuit alleges six inmates at West Valley Detention Center were subjected to beatings and torture, including “electric shock to their genitalia, sleep deprivation … and sodomy” by jail officials under the color of authority over the course of a 14-month period beginning Jan. 1, 2013.

The complaint filed Wednesday comes amid an ongoing two-month FBI probe into allegations of civil rights violations at the Rancho Cucamonga jail. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department immediately launched their own concurrent investigation once learning of the claims, leading so far to the dismissal of three deputies assigned to the facility. The department is cooperating with the FBI.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Jodi Miller told the Daily Press that neither investigation to date has found any evidence of sexual misconduct.

Six inmates are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, while San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon — “responsible for all jail facilities” in the county — eight Sheriff’s deputies, two civilian workers and the jail’s commander, Capt. Jeff Rose, are named as defendants.

Miller said that the county’s counsel had not yet been served with the lawsuit, but will ultimately be responding to it in court.

According to the complaint, inmates John Hanson, Lamar Graves, Brandon Schilling, Christopher J. Sly, Eddie Caldero and Michael Mesa were inmates at West Valley between Jan. 1, 2013 and the end of March 2014, when they suffered “extreme physical and emotional injury.”

Those injuries included prisoners having their handcuffed arms extended behind their bodies causing extraordinary pain and having shotguns placed to their heads “for no legitimate reasons,” the lawsuit reads. The inmates allege the incidents subsequently spurred them to obtain medical and psychological treatment.

Three Victorville-based attorneys are representing the prisoners, who are seeking $135 million in damages collectively.

Attorney Sharon Brunner told the Daily Press she believed the alleged violations were not exclusive to West Valley, one of the largest county jails in the state.

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