According to his colleagues and superiors, the deputy at the center of Orange County's bloodiest jailhouse murder—a man who claims he was watching television when two dozen inmates beat a suspected child molester to death just yards away—is “lazy” and showed a pattern of behavior described by his own department as that of a “bully.”
While supposedly watching guard over the roughly 150 inmates in Theo Lacy's F-West Barracks, where John Chamberlain, a Mission Viejo software engineer arrested for possession of child pornography, was murdered Oct. 5, 2006, his colleagues say, Deputy Kevin Taylor not only routinely watched the tube, but also watched films like “Blackhawk Down” on a portable DVD player and made personal calls or sent text messages on his cell phone.
Transcripts released today from the Orange County Grand Jury's investigation of Chamberlain's murder show that one of the guards who worked with Taylor, Philip Le, felt that Taylor was “lazy.”
As an example of his laziness, Le stated, Taylor wasn't fond of sending injured inmates to the jail's doctors for medical treatment after they'd been beaten up for violating jailhouse rules. That would mean he'd have to fill out paperwork. So instead, Le testified, Taylor would tell a jailhouse “shot-caller” who was in charge of that inmate, to convince the inmate not to report his injuries. The conversation, Le said, would go like this: “Hey this guy is messing up so get him in line; [tell him] You're not hurt…You are fine.”
According to documents released along with Le's testimony, however, Taylor wasn't lazy when it came to using physical force to punish inmates. In a so-called “Use of Force Report,” one of Taylor's superiors detailed an incident that took place in F-West barracks almost a month after Chamberlain's death. Two inmates—they happened to be father and son–standing in line shook hands and appeared to be passing a note to each other. A certain Sgt. Gonzales says he witnessed Taylor approach one of the inmates and say “I'm going to slap you” if the inmate didn't admit he passed a note.
In his report, Taylor says the inmate made a sudden movement, giving him no choice but to slap the inmate. But Sgt. Gonzales' version goes like this “While [the inmate] stood with his hands in his pockets, Deputy Taylor slapped him. [The inmate] then reeled backwards. In an attempt to regain his footing [the inmate] leaned forward and was slapped again.” Gonzales' report was based on what several inmates told him, a story that was corroborated by nearby deputies, who saw the inmate raise his hands only after he had been slapped.
The use of force report also mentions another incident when Taylor “placed an inmate in a stance that caused his legs to be spread into an extreme position (similar to the splits) while he circled the inmate and spoke to him.” The inmate couldn't stand, so he adjusted his feet, at which point “Taylor nudged the inmates leg out again, which caused the inmate to crumple to the ground in apparent pain.” Taylor was verbally reprimanded for this incident.
“In my opinion,” Taylor's superior wrote, “Taylor was 'bullying' the inmate unnecessarily. Prior to that Deputy Taylor had also been reprimanded for his actions during a use of force where he also utilized poor judgment…It appears to me that Deputy Taylor may be displaying a pattern of behavior that warrants closer scrutiny and consideration.”