For release on September 8, 2015
Public Communications Officer
JAIL GUARDS CHARGED WITH MURDER OF INMATE
Three Santa Clara County Main Jail correctional officers today were charged with the murder of an inmate.
The guards – Matthew Farris, 27, Jereh Lubrin, 28, and Rafael Rodriguez, 27 – are accused of beating inmate Michael Tyree late last month so that it caused massive and eventually fatal internal injuries. Numerous inmates heard the blows and Mr. Tyree screaming, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Stop.”
The guards are also accused of felony assault under the color of authority for beating another inmate minutes before their fatal assault on Mr. Tyree.
If convicted of the charges, the guards could face life in prison.
“These men violated the law, human dignity, and the job that they were sworn to do,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “They may have thought that their violence, enacted late at night in the obscurity of a jail cell and against a helpless and mentally ill inmate, was invisible. Today we see it for all of its brutality. Mr. Tyree was not invisible. His death was not invisible. We will see that there is justice.”
On August 26, around 10:50 p.m., the three guards entered the cell of another inmate in the same “pod” as Mr. Tyree – and physically assaulted him. Soon afterward they entered the cell of Mr. Tyree. After the closed-door beating – which left Tyree with numerous injuries all over his body – inmates heard Mr. Tyree crying. Then they heard his body hit the floor.
Officer Lubrin and Officer Rodriguez entered Tyree’s cell just after midnight to find Mr. Tyree dead on the floor, covered in his own waste. He was pronounced dead at 12:35 a.m. The Medical Examiner estimated that his internal injuries to his liver and spleen were so severe that he died within minutes of the trauma.
Michael Tyree was in custody related to his probation for a misdemeanor drug possession that was being monitored in Santa Clara County Superior Court's mental health court. He was also charged with petty theft.