Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Los Angeles County Settles For $900,000 After Unattended Prisoner Savagely Beaten By Violent Jail Gang

Los Angeles County Settles For $900,000 After Unattended Prisoner Savagely Beaten By Violent Jail Gang

Los Angeles County paid $900,000 to settle the civil rights complaint brought by the parents of a 41-year-old man who was beaten and crippled on June 7, 2005 by a known violent jail gang during a lapse of sheriff’s security coverage. Ironically, the victim was in jail at his father’s behest because the son had allegedly committed a minor burglary of his father’s house when the parents were on vacation.

Sean McNamara was described by his father as a “kid who refused to grow up.” Although he had worked earlier in his father’s muffler shop, Sean was still a beer-drinking “eternal boy” who grew up in the affluent Los Angeles neighborhood of Rolling Hills Estates.
When 6 ft. 200 lb. Sean broke into his father’s home and attempted to make off with a baseball cap with the logo “Snap-On Tools,” the father decided Sean need to learn his lesson. He pressed charges and refused to bail him out.

Sean was improperly housed in a 280-man dorm also containing known violent members from the “Southside” gang. Mistaking Sean’s pre-existing mental health disabilities for his being a child-molester, they waited for a break in coverage when on-duty deputy Timothy Schultz walked off his observation post to another one 75 feet away. In that interval, the Southsiders - known for beating other prisoners - seized the moment and climbed to the top of the three-tier bunk where they repeatedly jumped off onto Sean’s head. They were so unsupervised that they were able to carry Sean’s body to the shower and wash up the crime scene without staff observation. Sean was reduced to the mental state of a third-grader and today lives in an assisted living facility. After a year in the North County jail awaiting trial, where he lost 70 pounds and became despondent and unkempt, his burglary charges were dismissed because of the attack. One of the attackers has since pled guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced to six years.

In their civil rights complaint for damages, the parents sued for having a custody or policy causing a constitutional violation, for failure to train and supervise jail staff, for general negligence and for medical negligence. The suit focused on the Sheriff’s staff knowing from prior riots and attacks of the danger of leaving these violent gang members unsupervised. Schultz admitted he left his post for no compelling reason and did not ask for replacement coverage.

It was further alleged that L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca was on prior notice of an “epidemic of inmate on inmate assaults” and related ongoing policies that created potential constitutional violations, which in fact had resulted in numerous earlier such brutal beatings and murders. Upon this undisputed record, it is not surprising that the County settled on the day of the trial in May 2008. The family was represented by Culver City attorneys Sonia Mercado & Associates, Law Offices of R. Samuel Paz. See: McNamara v. County of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC 362264 (filed May 2007).

Other source: Los Angeles Times

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

McNamara v. County of Los Angeles