Sheriff's official says ‘vicious' shiv attack on inmate may have been coordinated

- SAN JOSE (BCN)- Two inmates at the Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose attacked a third inmate with a shiv on Sunday morning, stabbing him more than 40 times in the head, neck and back, according to county sheriff's officials.
   
The 40-year-old victim was treated for puncture wounds and lacerations at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and has returned to custody, Santa Clara County sheriff's Deputy Reginald Cooks said.
   
The victim suffered "significant damage to the head" and had to receive staples, Cooks said.
   
The attack took place around 9 a.m. while 40 inmates in module 7A were out of their cells for unstructured program time, when they are allowed to work out on the sundeck, read the paper or watch TV.
   
The two suspects were identified as a 22-year-old held on suspicion of attempted murder and a 24-year-old held on two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. Both suspects will be arraigned on additional attempted murder charges connected with Sunday's attack, Cooks said.
   
The shiv was fashioned from a piece of metal that had been sharpened like a knife. Materials from the commissary and possibly newspaper were used for a handle, according to Cooks.

The module houses mid- to high-level offenders, including violent offenders and those associated with gangs, but only one correctional deputy was on duty at the time of the stabbing.
   
The deputy called for backup immediately and instructed the inmates to lock down in their cells, but they were slow to respond, Cooks said, suggesting they may have been complicit in the attack.
   
The correctional deputy pepper-sprayed the two suspects, but they continued their attack until backup deputies arrived, allowing the first deputy to pull one of the attackers off of the victim.
   
The backup deputies also pepper-sprayed the attackers and were able to get the second suspect off of the victim, Cooks said.
   
The two suspects stabbed the victim with such force that the shiv bent, which may have saved the man's life, Cooks said.
   
Due to a county ordinance implemented in February, sheriff's officials are not releasing the surveillance video, according to Cooks.
   
The attack appeared to have been unprovoked, but investigators are looking into possible motives.

It was captured on surveillance cameras bought by Sheriff Laurie Smith last year following heightened scrutiny after inmate Michael Tyree died in 2015. He was allegedly beaten to death by three correctional deputies who are currently on trial.

“The jail and much of the criminal justice system has been undergoing a series of reforms and one of the most important reforms is putting cameras in the jail,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

Chavez is in New York for an immigration conference and said the policy provides some inmate privacy. She said the board is considering more reforms including mental health counselors and independent jail oversight.

Sources tell KTVU the mother of the one of the suspects in this attack is an activist for jail reform and sits on the jail's blue ribbon commission. Both suspects will now face additional attempted murder charges.

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