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FBI Assisting Santa Clara Co. Sheriff's Investigation Of 100 Inmate Complaints

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office is getting help from the FBI and retired employees to look into the nearly 100 jail complaints it has received since three deputies allegedly killed an inmate in August, a sheriff's spokesman said Thursday.

The alleged beating death of Michael James Tyree, 31, has led the sheriff's office to request assistance from the federal agency and from retired detectives from its internal affairs unit to look into 50 to 100 complaints made since the inmate died, sheriff's Sgt. James Jensen said.

Not all of the complaints involve the use of force, the spokesman said.

Jereh Lubrin, 28, Rafael Rodriguez, 27, and Matthew Farris, 27, have been charged with murder in Tyree's death and assault under the color of authority on another inmate, Juan Villa, on Aug. 26, prosecutors said.

Since Tyree's death, five other correctional deputies have been placed on leave, but Jensen did not specify why.

Some of the investigations into the other five deputies started prior to the 31-year-old's passing, Jensen said.

Lubrin, Rodriguez and Farris were arrested on Sept. 3 and have posted $1.5 million bail each. They are scheduled for a plea hearing on Oct.  13.

On Monday morning, 33-year-old Walter Roches died while in custody at the jail and a preliminary autopsy by the Santa Clara County medical examiner's office did not show signs of foul play in the death, county officials said.

In a YouTube video posted Sept. 14, Santa Clara County Correctional Peace Officers' Association president Lance Scimeca criticized the sheriff's office administration for reopening investigations into previous claims against jail guards that had already been closed.

The association represents deputies working in the county's jails.

"This harkens back to the Salem witch trials from 1692," Scimeca said.

In the roughly three-minute video, Scimeca tells the association's members that they have the support of the union and its board who are concerned for their protection and safety.

Scimeca also advised members to be cautious about handing over personal property, including their cellphones, to the administration if they don't have a search warrant.

© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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