Four join lawsuit claiming beatings at Sonoma County jail

PAUL PAYNE

Four more men have joined a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming they were beaten last year while inmates of the Sonoma County jail.

Their addition brings to six the number of men seeking damages from the county, Sheriff Steve Freitas and about a dozen correctional deputies allegedly involved in the May 28 incident.

Like the others, the former inmates of a jail high-security wing claim they were punched, kicked and thrown to the ground after complaining about the rough treatment of another inmate who refused to get out of bed.

Their lawyer, Izaak Schwaiger, said up to 20 inmates were beaten in a continuous round of assaults known as “yard counseling” that occurred over 5½ hours. He released two videos taken by guards that he said shows a portion of the violence.

Freitas has denied any wrongdoing, saying deputies were responding to a coordinated mass disturbance that threatened staff and inmate security.

U.S. District Court Judge James Donato will hear oral arguments Wednesday from county attorneys seeking to dismiss the case.

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ppayne.

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