ONLYONABC7NEWS.COM: Former Santa Rosa Jail inmates file lawsuit against Sonoma County sheriff over beating

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A former inmate is joining several others accusing the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office and government of abuse over excessive force used inside the jail yard. Reporter Vic Lee spoke exclusively with the victims. (KGO-TV)

SANTA ROSA, Calif.
A former inmate is joining several others accusing the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office and government of abuse over excessive force used inside the jail yard. Reporter Vic Lee spoke exclusively with the victims.

There are now half a dozen plaintiffs in that lawsuit, which ABC7 News first reported about last October.

All of the victims who have filed a lawsuit claim they were victims of this form of behavioral counseling, which their attorney said is sanctioned by the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.

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Danny Banks was one of two former prisoners at Santa Rosa Jail who sued the sheriff last October. "Guys in black came in and they were all wearing masks, hitting us and telling them it's their house and that they can beat us," he said.

At least two dozen inmates wrote letters saying, they too were systematically beaten one day last May.

All they did, they said was protest what they felt was an unjustified beating of another prisoner. "My eye and face were so swollen shut, I couldn't see out of it," Rigoberto Cabrera Jesus Lopez said.

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Now, Cabrera and two other former inmates have joined the suit.

Their attorney, Izaac Schwaiger, showed ABC7 News video shot by a deputy when Cabrrera was taken outside for what was called yard counseling. "A group of guards dressed in black, wearing masks and at one case carrying shotguns and other weapons will pull you out of your cell, beat you and tie you into a human pretzel and physically, emotionally and psychologically degrade you," Schwaiger said.

ABC7 News also obtained video Monday of Danny Banks, one of the two original plaintiffs. He also said he was given yard counseling.

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Jesus Lopez is still so emotionally distraught, he had a hard time telling ABC7 News what happened to him. However, he did tell his sister in a letter he wrote her. She read it at a news briefing in October saying: "They beat me until I sh**t in my pants. I was crying to tell them to get off and that I couldn't breathe."

Lopez echoed what others said in their letters and interviews. "I don't think anyone deserves what they did to us," he said.

The sheriffs office declined to comment because of the pending lawsuit.


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jailfightsurveillance camerasurveillance videocaught on camerasheriffsanta clara countyinvestigationu.s. supreme courtlawsdiscriminationcivil rightspoliticsarrestSan Jose
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