DOJ

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 02/04/15, 6:05 PM PST

A federal grand jury has been convened and is hearing testimony related to an FBI investigation into the alleged Taser gun torture of inmates at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, an attorney said Wednesday.

Victorville attorney James Terrell, who is representing 10 current and former inmates in two separate federal lawsuits alleging civil-rights violations at the jail, said witnesses began testifying before the grand jury last week in Riverside.

“I can tell you that some of my clients have in fact testified before the grand jury,” Terrell said Wednesday. “I believe four or five of my clients have testified.”

A status report on one of Terrell’s lawsuits, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Riverside by attorneys representing San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon and deputies named as defendants in the lawsuit, referenced the grand jury proceedings, which Terrell subsequently confirmed Wednesday.

“There is now a federal grand jury that is reviewing the claims,” according to the status report. “It is anticipated that the results of the investigations and information from the investigations will not be released for at least another two months.”

Matthew Harrison, an attorney representing the Sheriff’s Department who filed the status report, declined to comment Wednesday.

Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, also declined to comment Wednesday.

Terrell also declined to comment further but did say he was planning on filing a third lawsuit on behalf of inmate David Smith, a suspect in the abduction and fatal shooting of a teenage couple in an abandoned Air Force bunker west of Barstow in January 2008. Smith claims he was subjected to nearly five years of Taser gun abuse by deputies in the jail’s protective custody wing. Smith is now housed at the High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto.

Terrell’s lawsuits have been temporarily suspended pending completion of the criminal and internal affairs investigations by the FBI and the Sheriff’s Department, which were announced in April.

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