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California Briefing / Santa Ana

Claim filed in fatal jail attack

September 10, 2009|Robert J. Lopez

An inmate facing murder charges in the beating death of a man in an Orange County jail filed a claim Wednesday, alleging that deputies ordered him to attack the man, who had been arrested on child pornography charges.

Stephen Carlstrom, who is seeking $100 million in damages, is charged along with several other inmates in the 2006 killing of John Derek Chamberlain in the Theo Lacy Jail in Orange.

In his claim for damages, Carlstrom alleges that two deputies ordered him to give Chamberlain a "touch-up" -- a beating in jailhouse jargon.

John McDonald, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department, declined to comment because of the ongoing criminal inquiry.

The Times reported last month that federal authorities were investigating Orange County's troubled jail system. Officials from the Department of Justice have been examining repeated allegations during the last decade that deputies violated inmates' rights and used excessive force to maintain order in the jails.

A county grand jury criticized the Sheriff's Department for trying to impede the investigation into Chamberlain's death and concluded that there was evidence of rampant abuse at the Lacy jail.

According to grand jury testimony on the killing, a ranking deputy was watching TV and text-messaging friends while inmates assaulted Chamberlain for about 50 minutes. Cameras have since been placed in the Theo Lacy barracks.

-- Robert J. Lopez

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