California county settles with family of killed inmate for $3.6 million

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 09, 2016 6:54 PM

By Curtis Skinner

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A county in the San Francisco Bay area has reached a $3.6 million settlement with the family of a mentally ill inmate who authorities said was beaten to death by jail guards last year, attorneys and county officials said on Friday.

The $3.625 million will go to the young daughter, two sisters and estate of 31-year-old Michael Tyree, who prosecutors said was beaten to death by three guards in the Santa Clara County main jail in August 2015, according to a joint statement from the county and attorneys for Tyree's family.

The pre-litigation settlement effectively ended any possible claims that could be brought against the county, the statement said, adding that neither party would provide additional comment.

Jail guards Matthew Farris, Jereh Lubrin and Rafael Rodriguez were charged with murder in September 2015 over Tyree's death. All three have pleaded not guilty.

Authorities said Tyree was in a protective custody wing of the county's main jail the night of Aug. 26, 2015, after being arrested on misdemeanor drug possession and theft charges.

The three deputies were conducting a clothing search before entering Tyree's single-person cell, authorities said. During the vicious beating, numerous inmates could hear Tyree screaming, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Stop," prosecutors said.

Authorities said no one else had any contact with Tyree before Lubrin came back about an hour later to discover his naked body, which was covered in feces and vomit.

The county medical examiner-coroner said Tyree died of internal bleeding from multiple blunt force injuries. An attorney for Tyree's family said at the time that he suffered from mental illness and was being housed in the jail because space at a mental health facility was not available.

Defense attorney William Rapoport said a tentative trial date for the guards has been set for Jan. 23.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Leslie Adler)