The lawsuits, representing 32 plaintiffs between them, claimed that inmates at West Valley Detention Center were routinely subjected to beatings by deputies that were tantamount to torture.

Accusing law enforcement officials of widespread abuse against inmates at a Rancho Cucamonga jail, five civil lawsuits were recently settled for a total of $2.5 million, attorneys for the plaintiffs confirmed Thursday to the Daily Press.

In each case, San Bernardino County issued settlement checks July 11, according to federal court records filed three days later.

"The long and short of it: We settled our cases for $2.5 million," said attorney Dale K. Galipo, when reached by phone and asked to speak about the settlements. "We thought, given everything we knew, it was a good settlement. The clients are happy with it. More importantly, we're hoping they'll make changes at the facility so this won't continue to happen."

Galipo was part of a four-attorney team, which also included Sharon Brunner, Jim Terrell and Stanley Hodge.

The lawsuits, representing 32 plaintiffs between them, claimed that inmates at West Valley Detention Center were routinely subjected to beatings by deputies that were tantamount to torture. Among the accusations, generally, were that inmates were unjustly stunned with Tasers, pepper-sprayed and stripped search, while some were subjected to sleep deprivation and had shotguns placed to their head.

The first lawsuit was filed in 2014.

The complaints spurred the Sheriff's Department to launch an internal investigation in March 2014 that led to seven deputies being fired. Around the same time, the FBI began its own investigation and sheriff's officials have said they've been cooperative with the agency.

After this newspaper inquired late Thursday afternoon, Sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said by email that the department didn't have "a statement to release at this time" regarding the settlements.

Sheriff John McMahon, who was named as a defendant in the suits along with the county, the jail's commander and several deputies, has long insisted that abuse there was isolated to a small number of employees in a specific jail location and not a reflection of a larger, systemic problem.

But Galipo said it was "very difficult to believe this could have been going on without someone knowing it was happening."

"I think it's safe to say that anytime you have something like that happening on the scale that it was happening," he added, "there was a culture happening at the detention center that deputies thought it was OK to do it or they were encouraged to do it."

Attorneys also believe the settlements send a resounding message that might lead to even larger reforms.

Brunner and Terrell, who spoke with this newspaper on a conference call, reflected on their representation of two suspects in 2014, who told their attorneys they were stunned by a Taser, that spurred the deeper search into potential issues at the jail.

"I don't think we expected it to be that widespread," Brunner said.

Yet she said she has since seen improvements at the jail, including in the grievance process for inmates, although the two attorneys are still being contacted by inmates.

"We're still getting boxes of letters," she said, "and the predominant source of that is the West Valley Detention Center."

Galipo said that attorneys planned to issue a formal statement on the settlements to media outlets Monday.

"It's not just a wake-up call for the Sheriff's Department there, we hope that it's better than that," Terrell concluded. "We also hope it's a wake-up call for people that think law enforcement does no wrong."

Shea Johnson can be reached at 760-955-5368 or SJohnson@VVDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DP_Shea.