A lawsuit filed yesterday by Richard P. Herman, who often represents Orange County Jail inmates alleging excessive force by deputies, claims five guards severely beat inmate Derek Salazar inside the jail.
The lawsuit doesn't say when exactly the alleged beat-down took place, but medical photos attached to the complaint were taken on Nov. 2, 2009, indicating that could be when the incident took place.
The photos show serious cuts and bruises on Salazar's face as well as a smear of blood on the floor.
According to a press release issued by Herman's office yesterday, Salazar “was singled out by deputies for punishment and was beaten so severely that he had to be carried to the hospital leaving a pool of blood on the jail floor.”
The press release states that the Orange County District Attorney, “which seems to think of itself as the attorneys for the Sheriff's department,” failed to file charges against the five guards, and instead charged Salazar for “assaulting the five deputies.”
The DA's office apparently thought better of bringing the case to trial, and dropped the charges against Salazar, which had originally been filed on Feb. 25, 2010, on Jan. 27, 2011. “The evidence that we had when we filed the case was that the inmate had resisted and battered the police officers,” says Susan Kang Schroeder, the DA's chief of staff. “When we did further investigation, we found that the evidence had changed and we could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
But because the guards weren't charged, Herman argues, his client's rights were violated.
“We have just received a copy of the lawsuit and we are reviewing it at this time,” Assistant Sheriff Mike James tells the Weekly. “We have not previously received any complaint about this incident. We take allegations like this very seriously and we will be looking into the facts of this incident to determine if any action on our part is needed.”
Susan Kang Schroeder, the DA's chief of staff, takes umbrage at Herman's assertion that her office is too cozy to the Sheriff's department. “We prosecute crimes on behalf of the people,” she says. “It's a shame a civil attorney spouted out an untruthful comment in an attempt to grandstand in a lawsuit.”