While a group of inmates inside "F Barracks" at Orange County's Theo Lacy Jail beat, kicked, stomped and sodomized another inmate for as long as 40 minutes on October 5, 2006, Deputy Kevin Taylor, the senior ranking officer with oversight responsibilities for the area, sat on the other side of a large window and later claimed he was too busy to hear the victim screaming for his life or to see any hint of the gruesome killing reminiscent of a hyena attack.
Though prisoners insisted Taylor informed inmate shot-callers that victim John Derek Chamberlain was a child molester (untrue) and gave a green light for the attack, the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD) deputy claimed ignorance of the event, asserting that he'd spent the time reclining in an easy chair, watching a Cops rerun on television and sending 22 personal text messages to friends.
In February 2009, OCSD management secretly fired Taylor by citing three primary reasons: Dereliction of duty, misconduct and dishonesty. (California police unions working with politicians in both major political parties have won huge protection and secrecy laws--Public Safety Officers' Bill of Rights (POBRA)--that usually prevent the public from learning about dirty or incompetent cops.) The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS), the local deputies union, complained that Taylor's conduct didn't warrant termination.
In April 2010, arbitrator Robert D. Steinberg decided that OCSD's firing of Taylor violated his special POBRA rights and determined that taxpayers owed the fired deputy back pay and benefits.
Following Steinberg's binding ruling, Orange County handed Taylor $45,000 for back pay and unused leave time, but Taylor's lawyers are back in court insisting that taxpayers also owe the ex-deputy interest on the money from the date he was dismissed.
"It is well-established that a successful party to an arbitration is entitled to prejudgment interest," wrote AOCDS lawyers Charles A. Goldwasser and Samuel J. Wells, who say Taylor should get 10 percent annual interest on the back pay.
County lawyers say the demand is unjustified.
Superior Court Judge Charles Margines will hear arguments on Oct. 23 inside the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.
Steinberg ordered Jason Chapluk--a second fired deputy who was working with Taylor during Chamberlain's killing--reinstated to his job and awarded back pay of $69,106.
County officials have paid Chapluk, but he too is seeking an order that he's entitled to interest.
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The Orange County District Attorney's office declined to charge any deputy with even a misdemeanor crime after the killing, but did issue a report detailing the extent of deputy corruption and incompetence inside the jails.