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$50,000 Paid by Santa Clara County, California, to Prisoner Brutalized by Guards at County Jail

By Chuck Sharman 

In a settlement fully executed on June 4, 2018, Santa Clara County, California, agreed to pay $50,000 to a former prisoner who suffered a cruel beating at the hands of guards inside the county lockup.

The incident began on the evening of July 23, 2015, when the prisoner, Ruben Garcia, was transferred to a new cell at the Santa Clara County Jail. By his own admission, he made a loud entry, with vociferous complaints about missing dinner because of the transfer process. He then crawled under a table in an interview room and fell asleep.

When he awoke sometime later, Garcia was being yanked from under the table by his ankle shackles by a guard named Le—first name unknown—who proceeded to issue a savage beating. As the two exited the interview room, a second guard—later identified to Garcia as a man named Dario, first name also unknown—jumped him from behind and joined in the assault.

By the time the two guards tossed Garcia half-naked into his new cell—having ripped off his pants and underwear—his jaw was broken and he was bleeding from his injuries. But his requests for medical attention were ignored until the next day, by which point he had mixed it up with another prisoner, too.

Fortunately for Garcia, a senior guard named Sgt. Aguiler noticed his wounds. The prisoner received treatment first from a jail nurse, then at a hospital. But he still faces “a lifetime of complications” related to his broken jaw, his complaint noted.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on January 4, 2016, Garcia sought relief from Le and Dario for intentional infliction of emotional distress and for violations of several constitutional rights, including the right to be free from the use of excessive force and to receive prompt medical attention. Garcia also made a Monell claim against Santa Clara County for failing to supervise and train the errant guards.

The allegations were denied in the County’s response on February 29, 2016, after which Garcia amended his complaint on September 9, 2016, ultimately leading to the settlement. He was represented in his case by San Jose attorney Robert R. Powell and two of his firm’s other attorneys, Dennis R. Ingols and Brett O. Terry. 

See: Garcia v. Cnty. of Santa Clara, USDC (N.D.Ca.), Case No. 16-cv-00012-RMW.


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Related legal case

Garcia v. Cnty. of Santa Clara