A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy may face criminal charges, as well as a possible civil lawsuit, for his alleged abuse of an inmate who was serving as an informant to federal investigators.
Our Los Angeles police brutality attorneys understand that the deputy in question reportedly targeted the inmate solely because he was providing information to agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding an international drug trafficking operation.
Last July, the inmate, who had been assigned a number of handlers, revealed that the deputy in question had punched him in both the ribs and torso. At the time, the deputy reportedly chastised the informant, saying he was no one special and threatening to cause him further physical harm if they were ever alone in a room together for any extended length of time.
This is not the first time the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department has been hounded with allegations of staff-inflicted violence on inmates. Two years ago, Sheriff Lee Baca acknowledged that brutality at the jail - the nation's largest - was a problem.
However, the Los Angeles Times learned there were documents revealing that officials had known about the abuse and misconduct for potentially years prior. Cases involved numerous allegations of excessive force, for which no one was ever punished.
An audit found that in a single year, there were at least 100 violent encounters between inmates and deputies after which it was learned that deputies had "dramatized" the circumstances of what had occurred in order to justify their use of excessive force.
In other cases, deputies delayed stepping in with weapons that could end violent physical fights between inmates. The goal, the report indicated, was to ensure "jailhouse justice" was carried out before authorities stepped in.
Some of the violence inflicted by deputies against inmates was reportedly triggered by a display of disrespect by the inmate. But in many cases, no matter how severe the injury, supervisors failed to interview all relevant witnesses or implement any discipline for the deputies. And out of four cases in which additional training was ordered, only two of the deputies actually bothered to go.
So it is amid this backdrop that we have the most recent incident.
A number of others backed the inmate's story, including one deputy who reported that he was on the other side of a wall when he heard what sounded like a confrontation between the informant and the deputy. The deputy reported that when he rounded that corner, he saw his colleague pinning the informant against the wall, and the informant in tears.
Jail records reveal that the informant had proven a reliable source for information on the operations of a significant drug-smuggling ring, which had recently led to a six-figure bust.
A spokesman for the sheriff's office said that an internal investigation by the agency had been completed and that, at least for the time being, the deputy had been relegated to a desk job, while criminal prosecutors determine their next move. It was unclear whether the deputy's alleged abuse had any effect on the informant's ability to continue to assist federal authorities.
It's not even the first time this particular deputy has been accused of mistreatment. Another inmate said the deputy had elbowed him hard in the ribs, following a perceived slight, and then threatened to shock him with a Taser.
The deputy is also accused of threatening another fellow deputy with physical harm, though it's not clear what that encounter entailed.
If you have been a victim of wrong-doing by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, contact The Okorocha Firm at 1-800-285-1763.
Jail deputy accused of abusing inmate informant, May 2, 2013, By Robert Faturechi, Los Angeles Times
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