SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – More correctional guards in Santa Clara County are off the job, as investigators look into a flood of inmate complaints. One of the guards placed on leave has compared the investigations to a witch hunt.
Sources confirm to KPIX 5 that one of the correctional officers on leave is Lance Scimeca.
“This harkens back to the Salem Witch Trials from 1692.” Scimeca said in a YouTube video he posted as president of the Santa Clara County Correctional Peace Officers’ Association.
Also in the video, Scimeca criticized Sheriff Laurie Smith and her investigators for reopening dozens of past complaints. And he urges officers not to be coerced into turning over their cell phones to investigators.
“Know your rights regarding personal property. If they do not have a warrant to take it, don’t just freely give it,” Scimeca said.
Scimeca had no comment on why he had been placed on leave. But KPIX 5 learned it’s because he may be linked a new investigation into officers exchanging racist texts.
Eight Santa Clara County correctional officers are now on leave, including the three officers charged in the beating death of inmate Michael Tyree.
On Tuesday, the sheriff emphasized that the majority of her staff is trustworthy and law abiding. Still, investigators are thoroughly looking at 100 complaints from before and after Tyree died, even ones that have been closed.
“What happened a few weeks ago was I hope an anomaly,” Smith said. “The investigation is continuing, but we have highly educated highly motivated and dedicated people we’re really proud of.”