A homeless, mentally ill man serving a five-day sentence for a petty theft charge at a San Jose jail in California ended up beaten to death at the hands of three jailers, according to murder charges filed Tuesday.
The alleged motive: he refused to take his pills.
Santa Clara County correctional officers Jereh Lubrin, Matthew Farris and Rafael Rodriguez did not enter a plea to the charge, among a list of others, and remained jailed without bail, after authorities found Michael James Pipkin Tyree naked and covered in vomit and feces shortly after midnight on August 27th.
Santa Clara County Medical Examiner Dr. Joseph O’Hara found his death to be a homicide from blunt force trauma. Tyree was waiting for his transfer to a mental health facility.
“The autopsy of Mr. Michael Tyree revealed multiple cutaneous blunt force injuries such as contusions, abrasions, and lacerations in addition to lacerations of the liver and spleen with significant collection of blood in the abdominal space that resulted in the death of Mr. Tyree,” O’ Hara told PINAC via a press release.
“In short, he bled to death internally.”
The court affidavit reports the jailhouse bloodletting began shortly after Lubrin was notified by a nurse that Tyree had pocketed his pills, instead of swallowing them per policy in front of the medication window.
The inmate was ordered back to the window by Lubrin where he complied with the orders after he angrily called the nurse a “liar and rapist,” according to the statement of facts prepared by investigator, Sergeant Marc Carrasco.
“Do I have to get up?” Tyree reportedly asked Farris a few hours later when the trio charged in his murder were performing routine cell checks. Rodriguez stood watch at the cell door.
Tyree could be heard throughout the pod screaming “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Stop.”
The affidavit reports several minutes of screaming was mixed with sounds of “thumping, wall banging, and blows to a person’s body.” During the attack Rodriguez closed the cell door until it was only open a small amount.
The cruel intentioned correction officers then left Tyree to die within minutes to an hour without reporting the incident. Before the attack on Tyree, the three thug jailers also attacked another inmate, Juan Villa.
Lubrin later radioed there was a “man down” almost 15 minutes after midnight.
“The family and friends of Michael Tyree are heartbroken by the cause of Michael’s death. They are grateful for the efforts of Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith and her command staff to swiftly bring to justice the rogue correctional officers who so sadly betrayed their oath to protect and serve,” Tyree family Attorney Paula Canny told PINAC.
“We are hopeful that the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office will follow Sheriff Smith’s courageous path to bring those responsible to justice.”
Last Friday 50 activists marched on the jail to demand inmates be protected from violent and abusive staff.