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Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy Arrested, Allegedly Set Up Inmate Beating

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 (Alex Emslie/KQED)

An Alameda County sheriff's deputy was arrested Wednesday and accused of retaliating against a minimum-security inmate at Santa Rita Jail by ensuring he'd take a savage beating from half a dozen other prisoners in October, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Joseph Bailey, 28, surrendered to sheriff's investigators this morning and bailed out of jail by this afternoon, Alameda County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said.

Bailey allegedly had an argument with an unidentified inmate sometime before moving the prisoner to another section of the jail.

Bailey "basically gave the green light" for other prisoners to beat the inmate, Kelly said.

"Several inmates, we believe it’s five or six inmates, were involved in physically attacking the victim inmate using their hands and feet," Kelly said. "Ultimately, another deputy responded to deal with the fight, and during the course of his investigation learned that the deputy may have been complicit in sanctioning and allowing this fight to occur in the first place."

That started a months-long internal investigation while Bailey was on administrative leave. Investigators interviewed two dozen staff members and current and former inmates, according to the Sheriff's Office.


Kelly declined to identify the inmate who was beaten. He said the inmate suffered "moderate" but "non-life threatening injuries," and was hospitalized after the attack with cuts, bruises and possibly a fractured nose.

"We’re fortunate in the fact that the inmate was not more severely injured, honestly," Kelly said.

He said Sheriff's Office investigators presented charges of felony assault likely to cause great bodily injury and assault under the color of authority to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.

A district attorney's spokeswoman said the office is reviewing the case and has yet to make a formal charging decision.

Request for comment from an attorney representing Bailey was returned by David Mastagni, the founder of law firm Mastagni Holstedt.

"Law enforcement officers are being overcharged and charges are being filed hastily," Mastagni said. "We are prevailing on those -- getting acquittals or dismissals throughout the state -- and we are confident that we will prevail in his case."

Bailey's arrest comes about four months after four other Alameda County sheriff's deputies were charged with abusing inmates at Santa Rita Jail.

The East Bay Times reports that deputies Justin Linn, 23, of Tracy, and Erik McDermott, 27, of Concord, face charges of felony assault under the color of authority, witness intimidation and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Deputy Sarah Krause and former Deputy Stephen Sarcos are charged with felony assault under the color of authority.

The charges involve a series of incidents in which deputies pushed an inmate to throw feces and urine onto other prisoners in November 2016.

McDermott allegedly choked an inmate into unconsciousness in summer 2016.

Sarcos and Krause are accused of letting an inmate into another prisoner's cell so he could "assault the other inmate with a plastic bottle of feces and urine," according to the East Bay Times.

Sgt. Kelly said the prosecution of Linn, McDermott, Krause and Sarcos, as well as Bailey, were possible because other deputies reported misconduct.

"Both of these were pointed out by other staff members, so there is a system in place," Kelly said. "The system's not always perfect, but what's been perfect is people doing the right thing and reporting misconduct when they see it."

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