Multiple news outlets cite Prosecutor Joseph Jarzabek describing the scenario Monday during his opening statement in Sheriff Louis Ackal's trial on civil rights abuses.
Jarzabek said the search for contraband turned brutal after an inmate mouthed off to a deputy.
Ackal is accused of abuse and cover-ups dating back to his first days in office eight years ago. Ten deputies have pleaded guilty; several are set to testify against Ackal.
The sheriff's attorney told jurors they should be wary of such testimony, because the deputies are awaiting sentencing and will likely try to win favor with prosecutors.