SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A federal grand jury has indicted two former Santa Barbara County Jail deputies on multiple charges.
The indictment was filed against Christopher Johnson and Robert Kirsch on Thursday in Los Angeles.
Johnson was indicted on charges of depravation of rights under the color of law, obstruction of jusice and aiding and abetting. Kirsch was indicted on charges of depravation of rights under the color of law and aiding and abetting.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said, "It's a somber day for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office. This agency does not tolerate the excessive or unnesessary use of force. The alleged actions are disturbing and not reflective of the professional work carried out each and every day by 99.9 percent of the men and women of the Sheriff's Office."
The indictment claims that Johnson and Kirsch violated inmate, Charles Owens, civil rights after they allegedly attacked him at the jail. The incident was recorded by a surveillance camera.
Johnson and Kirsch are already facing assault charges filed by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley. She tells NewsChannel 3, that in cases like this, there is joint jurisdiction. Dudley said, "As the case continues to evolve, we'll make the decision about whether we will prosecute locally or whether its going to be handled by the federal government."
Johnson and Kirsch were both fired from the Sheriff's Office in March. Owens was transferred to Folsom State Prison in December 2013, where he is serving a life sentence without parole.