Federal Lawsuit: San Bernardino County Deputies “Tortured” Inmates

Six inmates who served time in a Southern California jail are seeking $150 million each in a lawsuit, alleging deputies beat and tortured them in a lockup last year, according to a federal lawsuit filed this week.

The plaintiffs allege they were subjected to electric shocks to their genitalia, were deprived of sleep, had shotguns placed to their heads and were sodomized.

The inmates said in court documents that they were handcuffed with their arms behind their backs, causing extraordinary pain while they were jailed at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga between Jan. 1, 2013, and March of this year, the lawsuit said.

"The conduct of the defendants was willful, malicious, sadistic and designed to inflict pain and suffering upon the plaintiffs," court documents said.

Since the filing, eight additional inmates have come forward with similar allegations, bringing the total to 14 inmates, according to an NBC4 report.

Lawyer Jim Terrell described what allegedly happened to one inmate because he had metal plates in his hips.

"They actually stood on both sides of (my client) at the same time and shot into his steel hips with stun guns, and the ultimate goal was to try to get to seven seconds," Terrell said.

They are seeking millions of dollars. Named in the lawsuit are San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon, Jeff Rose, the commander of the West Valley Detention Center, and Deputy B. Teychea.

Jodi Miller, a Sheriff's spokeswoman, said the county will respond in court once officials have been served with the lawsuit.

"The department and the FBI are in full cooperation in order to ensure a comprehensive investigation  is completed," she said. 

In April, the FBI launched its own investigation into alleged civil rights abuses at the jail, officials said.

"The agents most likely are going to trump what the deputies have been getting away with in this county for a long, long time," Terrell said.

McMahon said in a statement at the time that members of the Sheriff’s Department command staff received information about possible misconduct by department personnel at the West Valley Detention Center and launched an investigation.

"As department officials delved into the issue deeper, they learned of a similar inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation," the Sheriff said.

He said the allegations are being taken seriously.

"I will not tolerate any misconduct by department personnel," he said.

Samia Khan contributed to this report.

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