Santa Clara County

Ex-Inmate Files Complaint Alleging Excessive Force by Deputies at Santa Clara County Jail

The Santa Clara County jail system continues to be the focus of scrutiny and legal action.

A former inmate has filed a complaint against the jail alleging excessive force by deputies that caused severe, possibly permanent eye damage. Joseph Klauser filed a claim with Santa Clara County on Friday seeking damages for what he called a July 12 attack by jail deputies.

The claim is currently being investigated by the sheriff's department, who does not comment on pending claims.

Klauser in an exclusive interview with NBC Bay Area on Wednesday admits he was jailed while intoxicated for violating a restraining order. The former inmate also acknowledged he has been in custody several times before without incident.

Klauser claims in his most recent stint in jail he was beaten by three deputies.

"While they were twisting my arm and stepping on me and stuff, the officer put his finger in my eye," Klauser said.

Klauser said he fears he has permanent blindness in his right eye, but has not gotten medical validation.

Paula Canny, Klauser's lawyer, is also representing the family of Michael Tyree, an inmate allegedly beaten to death by three jail officers who now face murder charges. Canny has filed a claim for Tyree's family, as well as Klauser's and another inmate, Juan Villa.

"I'm saying they're even on more notice that there are problems with violence by correctional officers against and toward inmates," Canny said.

Meanwhile, sources tell NBC Bay Area Klauser was extremely intoxicated in jail and never lodged any complaints with custody staff. Sources also said Klauser could not identify the deputies involved and picked two people in a lineup who did not work at the jail.

Klauser has also changed his story throughout the investigation, according to sources.

Regardless, Klauser and his attorney said if their claim is denied they will go to court.

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