18 Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies have been charged with several offenses which include beating inmates, falsifying reports to cover their tracks, and attempting to keep the FBI from doing an investigation.
Among those leveling allegations at the deputies are a man who says he went to Men's Central Jail to speak to someone about not being able to visit his brother, who was an inmate there. Instead of being heard, he was handcuffed and beaten, suffering a fractured arm and wounds to his face.
It's not the only accusation of its kind, and now 16 of the 18 deputies have been arrested on charges ranging from obstruction of justice to civil rights abuses.
"These incidents did not take place in a vacuum — in fact, they demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized. The pattern of activity alleged in the obstruction of justice case shows how some members of the Sheriff's Department considered themselves to be above the law," U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said.
In other cases, the deputies allegedly beat and pepper-sprayed an inmate, then falsified reports to make it look like he had assaulted the officials. Sheriff Lee Baca, who has overseen the department since 1998, says he intends to fully cooperate with the probe, which includes four grand jury indictments. The deputies charged have all been "relieved of duty".
Of the 16 who were arrested, 13 have pleaded not guilty.