MILPITAS, Cailf. (KTVU) - Increased staffing and re-evaluating the jail system are among the changes happening after a deputy was attacked by a cluster of inmates on Christmas Eve at Elmwood Jail in Milpitas.
According to Santa Clara County Assistant Sheriff Troy Beliveau, the attack happened at 8:20 p.m. when a deputy was working in the lockdown units.
The incident happened when the deputy saw a group of inmates in a restricted area.
One of the inmates had contraband under his pants. When the deputy asked for the contraband, the inmate dropped it to the ground.
According to Beliveau, the deputy was attacked when he tried to pick up the contraband. Nine more inmates then jumped in, punching and kicking him. The deputy called for help and backup arrived. The attack lasted about 90 seconds according to the Santa Clara County Sheriff.
The deputy involved is a seven-year veteran. He is now on medical leave for moderate to severe injuries.
"Right now, he's still seeing a specialist, but probably both shoulders, maybe a hip injury," said Sheriff Laurie Smith. "They're still evaluating head injuries. He was fighting for his life. The inmates were punching him, kicking him, kneeing him in the head."
The sheriff's office has identified the inmates who were involved and they are now in maximum security at San Jose's Main Jail.
The inmates involved are suspected gang members and are likely to face criminal charges in the attack.
In light of this assault, the sheriff's office has added more staff and they're limiting how many inmates can be out at a time.
"In this case one deputy in there, 80 people housed," said Smith. "At the time of the attack there were 41 inmates that were out. It could have been much more severe. We are fortunate it wasn't worse."
This comes as Elmwood's sister jail, the Main Jail in San Jose, is under scrutiny for the beating death of inmate Michael Tyree. Three jail guards are now accused of killing Tyree. Following this attack at Elmwood, the sheriff said, up to nine gallons of homemade alcohol and a 7-inch shank, or homemade knife, were recovered.
The sheriff said surveillance video didn't capture the attack, but the inmate who started the fight has had problems with deputies before. They have video of him at one point being forced out of his cell at Elmwood Jail.