2 Santa Clara Co. jail guards arrested for beating inmate

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Two Santa Clara County jail guards were arrested Monday.

Guards 27-year-old Phillip Abecendario and 31-year-old Tuan Le are suspected of beating a shackled inmate identified as 50-year-old Ruben Garcia.

According to the district attorney's office, the beating occurred on July 23, 2015 after inmates were locked in their cells for the night. Ruben had allegedly arrived at the jail that evening to be housed, and was assaulted in an interview room. "Then they dragged him - chained and half-naked - to his cell where they assaulted him again. During these assaults, the officers threw him against the wall and floor, jumped on him, punched him, and kicked him," according to a news release from the district attorney's office.

At least two dozen inmates reported seeing the incident.

Abecendario and Le were each charged with one count of assault by an officer. If convicted they could face up to a maximum of three years in jail.

They have been on administrative leave since February.

Sheriff Laurie Smith released the following statement, "Mr. Garcia's allegation that custody deputies assaulted him was taken very seriously by this office and was vigorously investigated to determine the facts. As a result of this investigation, Phillip Abecendario and Tuan Le have been arrested for assault under color of authority.

These alleged actions run contrary to any training they've received, any supervision they've been under and is not indicative of the exemplary work performed by the overwhelming majority of correctional deputies."
KTVU reported on Garcia's claims last November. Garcia told KTVU he suffered permanent nerve damage to the right side of his face. His jaw was broken after the former gang member claims he had one of the worst beatings of his life from two Santa Clara County correctional deputies.

At the time Garcia told KTVU, "They're beating people up like it's the thing to do in there...they are a different generation, a different breed of officers in there."

Garcia's beating allegedly happened a month before the beating death of a mentally ill inmate identified as Michael Tyree.

Jereh Lubrin, Matthew Farris and Rafael Rodriguez, all guards at the Santa Clara County Main Jail, are set to go to trial on charges of murder and assault in the death of Tyree and beating of Juan Villa.

According to the medical examiner, the cause of Tyree’s death was multiple blunt force injuries, that lacerated his liver and spleen.