Sheriff

David Smith, 26, of Covina, is the latest inmate to come forward alleging he was abused by deputies at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 06/10/14, 8:21 PM PDT | Updated: 55 secs ago

A former inmate and chow server at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga said he was subjected to five years of Taser gun abuse by at least a dozen deputies who stunned him more than 80 times.

Allegations by David Brian Smith, 26, of Covina and attorneys who represent him and nearly a dozen other inmates in federal lawsuits contradict claims by San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon that alleged abuse at the jail involves only three rookie deputies, since fired, over the past year. The allegations, which surfaced in March, have prompted a criminal probe by the FBI and an internal affairs investigation by the Sheriff’s Department, both of which are ongoing.

Attorneys and inmates continue to allege inmate abuse was much more widespread than McMahon has acknowledged.

“I think he (McMahon) wishes that were the truth, and I think he’s probably been told that by his captain and the other deputies there,” said Victorville attorney Jim Terrell, who along with attorneys Stanley Hodge and Sharon Brunner are representing inmates in federal lawsuits alleging civil rights violations at San Bernardino County’s most bustling jail.

Hodge said Tuesday that the alleged abuse, which includes inmates being repeatedly shocked with Taser guns as part of a hazing ritual involving mainly chow servers, has been going on for years and is indicative of a long-standing culture condoned by the rank and file and administrators, including the sheriff himself.

“I think there is a culture that has developed over the terms of several sheriffs, including this one,” Hodge said.

McMahon was out of town and unavailable for comment Tuesday. Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said the department was not at liberty to comment on the allegations due to the pending criminal and administrative investigations.

The allegations stem from a unit at the jail where inmates are segregated from the general population because they are more vulnerable to abuse by other inmates due to the crimes they are charged with or other extenuating circumstances.

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