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Sheriff’s Deputies Arrested, Charged With Abuse

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“These incidents did not take place in a vacuum. In fact, they demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized.”

Charges were announced at a news conference on Monday against 18 current and former L.A. County sheriff’s deputies who beat inmates and visitors, falsified reports, and tried to block an FBI probe of the nation’s biggest jail system.

16 of the 18 defendants were arrested earlier in the day on Monday. The 13 arraigned entered not guilty pleas. At least two of the deputies no longer work for the department.

One of the many incidents occurred three years ago when a visitor, referred to in a federal indictment as “Visitor LF,” went to Men’s Central Jail to discuss visiting his brother there, which he had been unable to do in the past. When he arrived, an L.A. deputy allegedly handcuffed him, took him to a break room with no windows, and threw him against the refrigerator.

During the incident, the man received cuts to his nose and face and a fracture to his arm after which four deputies falsely charged him with resisting an executive officer and detained him for five days. He was finally released without being charged.

On Monday, Sheriff Lee Baca told reporters that he was troubled by the charges and called it a sad day for his department. He said that the department would continue to cooperate with the FBI and that the deputies who have been charged would be relieved of duty and have their pay suspended.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, some of the allegations in a criminal complaint and four grand jury indictments include:

— Deputies unlawfully detaining and using force on visitors to Men’s Central Jail, including detaining and handcuffing the Austrian consul general in one instance, and in another, grabbing a man by the neck, forcing his head into a refrigerator, throwing him to the floor and pepper-spraying his eyes.

— Deputies falsifying reports to make arrests seem lawful or in one case, struck, kicked and pepper-sprayed an inmate and made false reports to have the inmate charged with and prosecuted for assaulting deputies.

— Deputies trying to thwart the investigation by unsuccessfully seeking a court order to get the FBI to provide documents and attempted to intimidate a lead FBI agent by falsely saying they were going to seek a warrant for her arrest.

Two lieutenants were charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Along with two sergeants and three deputies, they are accused with trying to prevent the FBI from contacting an informant by falsifying records to appear that he had been released when he had actually been moved to different cells under false names.

U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. would not say whether the lieutenant and sergeants involved were directed by their superiors or whether the alleged abuse came from the top.

Baca, running for re-election in 2014, admitted mistakes in the department but, at the same time, defended his department and distanced himself from the allegations. He denies that the abuse was rampant.

“You haven’t seen me retire from the job,” he said. “You haven’t seen me blame somebody else besides me for whatever the challenges are.”

In 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the Sheriff’s Department, claiming that the sheriff and his top commanders had condoned violence against the inmates, and released a report documenting more than 70 cases of deputy misconduct.

In October, a federal jury found Baca personally liable for $100,000 for failing to stop the abuse in a case brought forth by a man who said he was severely beaten while awaiting trial in Men’s Central Jail.

In June, Baca disputed the findings that deputies in the Antelope Valley discriminated against blacks and Latinos by making unconstitutional searches and seizures and using excessive force. However, Baca also said that he had instituted reforms.

The Sheriff’s Department oversees 18,7000 inmates and has a history of abuse allegations dating back to the 1970s.

image via: Wikimedia Commons

Sheriff’s Deputies Arrested, Charged With Abuse
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  • I Know

    I know people don’t want to believe it or even acknowledge it but there are A) many innocent people in prison – more than you can imagine and B) the police, judges and DAs are some of the worst people on this planet. Every night on the news, there is some segment about how good cops are. It is done on purpose to convince you. Go behind the scenes and you will see a totally different story. You will see payoffs, entrapment, selective evidence, abuse, kickbacks, and intimidation. Go in prison and you will see cops murder people. If you want to know how Nazi Germany came about, go to your local prison and see what happens when cops are are given authority away from the public eye.

    Cases like the ones above are not isolated incidents. They are doing these things to people that have nothing. What are they doing to people in the outside world that have money and possessions? The cops are the ones bringing the weapons, phones, and drugs into the prisons. What are they doing in the real world where there is major money to made from these things?

    You can be pro-cop if you want but I assure you of this, you better watch your back because they will turn on you in a heartbeat. There is rampant corruption in politics. To the point that only 8% of the population does not approve of Congress. What on earth makes you think the corruption doesn’t extend into the states?

    By the way, the police force is being militarized and expanded due to terrorism. Yep, all those terrorists that aren’t attacking anything in the US. I would worry if I were you America. The police aren’t being expanded to stop terrorism. They are being expanded to clamp down on you.

    • @I Know

      I gotta agree. We have more cops than you can imagine in my small town. They are all training like soldiers and using body armor. There isn’t any crime here. Every once in a while, something major happens but that is just life. I have a history background. I went to school to study it. It reminds me a lot of pre-world war II Germany. The same things are happening in the US now. People are blind to it. No wonder we incarcerate more people than any other country in the world. Then again, I can go out to the NYSE and buy stock in prisons so there is a financial incentive to arrest people. Kind of like pre-WWII Germany. Why do you think they are doing all these entrapment cases. It is easy money.

  • JT

    I don’t buy for a second the Sheriff didn’t know what was going on. Cops all know each other — heck most are related in some ways. They all talk. If one person knows of rampant abuse, you better believe they all do. The abuse goes well beyond people getting thrown up against.

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