Three guards at the Santa Clara County Main Jail in California were arrested Thursday on suspicion of murder, a week after a mentally ill inmate, Michael Tyree, 31, was found naked in his cell, covered in lacerations and bruises and bleeding to death internally, reports the San Jose Mercury News. The murder allegations against correctional officers Jereh Lubrin, 28, and Matthew Farris and Rafael Rodriguez, both 27, are unprecedented in the 165-year history of the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Laurie Smith called the officers’ actions “violent and cowardly.”
The alleged assault occurred last Saturday while the officers were conducting a routine search of Tyree’s cell. Tyree was being held for a probation violation stemming from a minor drug-related arrest. He had agreed to enter a residential treatment program for substance abuse and was waiting for a slot to open up so he could be transferred. Sheriff Smith said the officers declined to give statements to investigators, invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, and requested attorneys.