31 Gang Members Attack California Jail Inmate for Talking to Police, DA Says

Dozens of gang members have been charged over allegedly beating a fellow inmate for nearly six minutes after they discovered he was working with law enforcement.

A grand jury has indicted 31 gang members housed in the Santa Clara County Jail, California, following an attack which left the victim naked and covered in blood. His attackers left him broken bones and poured floor cleaner on his face, prosecutors say.

The attack took place in a dorm room the inmates shared at the Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas on November 30, 2020. The attack occurred in an open dormitory style jail unit limited to gang members.

According to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, the 40-year-old victim entered the dorm at around 7:30 p.m. and was set upon by several other inmates who proceeded to punch and kick him.

The victim was dragged into a space that was near the guards' window, where he was punched further. One of the suspects allegedly poured floor cleaner on his bloody face.

The attack, which lasted a total of five minutes and 37 seconds, was captured on video surveillance.

"The jail is not a law-free zone where anything goes," DA Jeff Rosen said in a statement on Tuesday. "Violence is no more acceptable behind bars than it is outside them."

The district attorney's office said evidence shows all the defendants personally participated in the attack, which was motivated because the victim cooperated with law enforcement on a pending criminal case.

The attack occurred within a few minutes after the victim was transported to and brought into the housing unit.

County Public Defender Molly O'Neal, whose office represents people held at the jails, said it is "reprehensible" that no correctional officers at the facility tried to stop the attack.

"The idea that almost six full minutes elapsed while 31 people beat up another inmate and guards did not intervene is unfathomable," O'Neal told The Mercury News. "This has to stop."

In a statement to Newsweek, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office said it was an "unfortunate situation."

"This incident began in a remote part of one of our 'Indirect Supervision' dorms, which means the deputy is stationed outside of the housing area. Staff assigned to these posts are often responsible for multi-tasking and conducting other non-supervision duties, which typically occur out of eyesight of those incarcerated.

"We hope to see justice for the victim and that those alleged to have committed this felonious assault will be held to account for their actions."

All 31 inmates are charged with felony assault and active participation in a criminal street gang.

A total of 19 of the inmates are also charged with personal infliction of great bodily injury. Two inmates are charged with witness intimidation and five inmates are charged with retaliation against a witness. Gang allegations have also been filed against all the defendants.

All of the suspects were arraigned on Monday, May 10, and face significant prison time if convicted.

Newsweek has contacted Elmwood Correctional Facility officials and representatives for comment.

This article has been updated with comment from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.

Elmwood Correctional Facility
(File photo) The Santa Barbara County Detention and Correctional Facility is seen on June 12, 2005 in Santa Barbara, California. A total of 31 gang members have been charged with attacking an inmate at the Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas. David McNew/Getty Images