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OC Sheriff's Deputies Not Named in Jail Beating Indictments


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The Orange County District Attorney says he won't pursue criminal charges against sheriff's deputies in relation to a deadly jail beating. KPCC's Susan Valot says a judge today unsealed the indictments against two former inmates. In all, nine are facing charges.

Susan Valot: The inmates reportedly thought fellow inmate John Chamberlain was a child molester, even though he wasn't. They're accused of kicking and stomping him to death in a Theo Lacy jail cell in Orange. Sheriff's deputies did not step in for several minutes. But Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas says no deputies will face criminal charges.

Tony Rackauckas: In order to have a criminal case, you need proof beyond a reasonable doubt that shows criminal activity and criminal intent, and we didn't have that.

Valot: Rackauckas says deputies may not be facing criminal charges...

Rackauckas: But that does not mean that it wasn't quite clear that, uh, some people in the sheriff's department did not properly perform their duty.

Valot: Rackauckas says a grand jury report will reveal more details. He says it'll explain the reasoning behind recent management shakeups within the Sheriff's department. That grand jury report is due to be released in about eight weeks. Meantime, all nine of the accused inmates are expected to go to trial in June. Three will be arraigned later this month. Richard McKinney is the half-brother of Jeremy Culmann, one of the men facing charges. McKinney says he doesn't believe his brother is guilty.

Richard McKinney (holding back tears): My brother wouldn't hurt nobody. Now he's in jail with murderers. I mean, he's a 23-year-old kid. He's my younger brother. He's a small little kid. How did he kill somebody in jail?

Valot: McKinney says his brother was in for methamphetamine possession when the beating happened. He says his brother may have spit on Chamberlain or thrown water on him, but that he had to, for his own safety.

McKinney: If you don't get involved, then you're next. And it's sad. It's like, something's gotta be done about that – that decent people, when you get in trouble and you break certain laws and you have to pay your price to society, that you can't do it. You go to jail to pay a minor offense and then this comes off at you? It's like, come on, something's wrong.

Valot: McKinney says his brother's straightened out his life since that jail time. And in the wake of the fatal jail beating, Orange County officials are creating an independent jail oversight committee to try to help prevent similar incidents in the future.