Rally held demanding changes at Santa Clara County Jail after inmate's death

Friday, September 4, 2015
Rally to be held for Santa Clara County jail death
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Community leaders have organized a rally on the death of an inmate at Santa Clara County jail.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- A rally is being held at the Santa Clara County Jail to remember and call for change in the wake of an inmate's death last week. Three sheriff's correctional deputies have been arrested for murder.

Leaders of the NAACP, Silicon Valley De-Bug, the Coalition for Justice and Accountability and People Acting in Community Together, or PACT, are leading this rally. They are advocating for safety and accountability at the Santa Clara County Jail in light of last week's death of inmate Michael Tyree.

"We see this as an issue as a crisis, that this may not be a one off for what's happening inside the jail," said Barbara Hensen, People Acting in Community Together.

EXCLUSIVE: Santa Clara correctional chief discusses arrest of 3 deputies

The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office acted swiftly after the 31-year-old Tyree was found naked in his single cell, covered in feces. The coroner determined he bled to death after suffering blunt force trauma. Three correctional deputies, 27-year-old Matthew Farris, 28-year-old Jereh Lubrin and 27-year-old Rafael Rodriguez, were arrested on suspicion of murder, assault under color of authority and conspiracy.

"The disapproval and disgust I feel cannot be overstated," said Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith.

Community groups want that feeling by Sheriff Laurie Smith turned into action -- they're asking for independent oversight of the jail, more programs for inmates and more training for guards on how to deal with people with mental health issues. The first step is getting the sheriff face-to-face with the inmates.

"She said that she had never been in the jail to talk with the inmates. To talk about what's going on. That's not the way you treat your customer. She said she's going to do that now," said Hensen.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's office has begun to review the case to determine what charges if any should be filed. If charges are filed, the arraignment for Farris, Lubrin and Rodriguez is scheduled for Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in Department 23 of the Hall of Justice.