Phillip Abecendaro and Tuan Le
SANTA CLARA COUNTY — The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department announced today the arrest of two correctional officers for assault of an inmate while acting under the color of law.
The male victim claimed that he was assaulted by two correctional officers. The investigation into the assault found that 27-year-old Phillip Abecendario and 31-year-old Tuan Le acted under the color of authority while assaulting a 49-year-old Hispanic male victim.
According to Sgt. James Jensen with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Laurie Smith has pledged to fully utilize the department’s resources to help investigate any complaints submitted by an inmate.
According to the Office of the Sheriff Laurie Smith, “Mr. Garcia’s allegations that custody deputies assaulted him was taken very seriously by this office and was vigorously investigated to determine the facts.” Smith said, “As a result of this investigation, Phillip Abecendario and Tuan Le have been arrested. These alleged actions run contrary to any training they’ve received, any supervision they’ve been under and is not indicative of the exemplary work performed by the overwhelming majority of correctional deputies.”
The correctional officers were put on administrative leave in February of 2016. Each correctional officer is now facing one count under PC 149, assault of an inmate, when he was shackled at his waist while acting under the color of law.
The attack occurred on July 23, 2015, after hours when all other inmates were locked in their cells. The attack began in an interview room where Garcia was being held before being brought back to his cell. It is believed that the correctional officers attacked Garcia while he was shackled at his waist, dragging him back to his cell. Witnesses described how they had seen Abecendario and Le throw Garcia into the cell wall, while punching and kicking him.
Each suspect faces a maximum of 3 years in prison if convicted. Abecendario and Le have pleaded not guilty and have been released on bail. Both suspects are also expected to be released from the Sheriff’s Department as correctional officers.