Deputies placed a “lamb with a lion” last year when they moved a non-violent car thief into an Orange County jail cell with an admitted double-murderer, and then lied about conducting regular safety checks after they found the thief dead, according to a wrongful death claim.
The claim, which chronicles a death widely reported in 2017, makes several new allegations:
— Orange County jailers claimed to have performed safety checks on inmates that were not conducted.
— The victim was homeless prior to sharing a cell with a man who admitted killing homeless people.
— A jail security video shows the killing.
— The alleged assailant had been “sexually aggressive” with a previous cell mate and, prior to being put into the cell with the victim, attacked a deputy jailer.
What is already known is this: Danny Pham, a 27-year-old Westminster man, was near the end of a six-month sentence when he was found strangled July 3 in a cell he shared he’d shared for days with Marvin Magallanes, an Anaheim man who’d already confessed to stabbing and killing two homeless men.
Officials from the Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office said Pham’s death is still under investigation and would not say if Magallanes is a suspect. Both agencies declined further comment.
However, the claim filed against the county last month by attorney Michael Guisti on behalf of Pham’s family alleges that Magallanes strangled Pham at 7:20 a.m. in their shared cell. Security cameras captured the killing, said the claim.
A jail employee delivering food to inmates found Pham’s body at 11:10, nearly three hours after he’d been strangled, the claim says. At the time, Magallanes was outside the cell.
Soon after, “the video recording of Danny Pham’s murder was reviewed by a Sheriff’s Lieutenant and other staff,” according to the claim. “The Lieutenant immediately determined that Pham was murdered… However, the official entry regarding the cause of death…