San Jose

Deputy Severely Beaten By 10 Inmates at Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas: Sheriff's Dept.

The holidays did not provide much relief for Santa Clara County's much scrutinized jail system in Northern California.

NBC Bay Area has learned a correctional officer at Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas was severely beaten on Christmas Eve by a group of 10 inmates who are all suspected gang members.

Elmwood jail is a minimum and medium security facility.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department confirmed the alleged assault, but requested the deputy's name not be released for his safety and security concerns.

The 7-year veteran officer was attacked Thursday during a time when inmates were allowed out of their cells to congregate inside a so-called day room.

According to investigators, the deputy noticed a package, described as contraband, in the waistband of an inmate, who is also a suspected gang member. Investigators said the inmate was under the influence and defiantly dropped the package at the deputy's feet and walked away.

"As the inmate walked away the deputy retrieved the item, and that's when the inmate turned and attacked our officer," Assistant Sheriff Troy Beliveau said. "Then approximately nine other inmates joined in and started attacking the officer."

Beliveau said the inmates, also suspected gang members, stopped when other deputies responded.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department said the officer was taken to Saint Louise Hospital and treated for numerous injuries, including a shoulder sprain and head contusions. The officer is currently on paid leave and recovering at home, officials said.

The alleged assault is the latest in a series of jail incidents under investigation in Santa Clara County.

In August, inmate Michael Tyree was allegedly beaten to death by three officers at the main jail in San Jose.

Jail officials said after conferring with Sheriff Laurie Smith, the latest incident will lead to more changes in jail procedures.

"We're looking at additional staffing for these areas and possibly not allowing as many to come out at one time so that they can be managed by our staff," Beliveau said.

The sheriff's department is not revealing what the contraband was. Sources said it was an innocent item, but wrapped and hidden in a way so it was not allowed to be passed between inmates.

The 10 inmates allegedly involved have now been placed in maximum security at the main jail awaiting their new court hearings on charges of assaulting a peace officer.

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