Deputies Testify Against Former Colleagues in Jail Abuse Trial

Originally published on June 21, 2015, at NationofChange.org

Two former Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies testified against their fellow deputies this week after brutally assaulting an inmate’s brother and covering up their excessive use of force. The victim and his girlfriend also testified in court presenting evidence that the deputies had lied about removing one of his handcuffs before beating the victim unconscious in a break room at Men’s Central Jail (MCJ) in Downtown Los Angeles. According to the deputies’ testimonies, their sergeant ordered them to lie and concoct a false narrative accusing the victim of resisting arrest.

On February 26, 2011, Gabriel Carrillo attempted to visit his brother, who was an inmate at MCJ, when deputies discovered that Carrillo’s then-girlfriend, Griselda Torres, had brought a cellphone into the facility. When questioned by deputies, Torres admitted that both she and Carrillo had their cellphones on them. After confirming that he did have a phone, Carrillo asked Deputy Pantamitr Zunggeemoge, “What are you going to do, arrest me?”

According to Zunggeemoge’s testimony, the deputy cuffed Carrillo’s hands behind his back and escorted him to a nearby break room, while Deputy Sussie Ayala placed Torres in handcuffs and followed them. Zunggeemoge slammed Carrillo into a refrigerator before patting him down and lifting his cuffed arms in order to inflict more pain. As Carrillo continued to mouth off to the deputies, Ayala called for backup on her radio.

When deputies Fernando Luviano, Noel Womack, and Sgt. Eric Gonzalez arrived, Zunggeemoge left the room to run Carrillo’s name through a criminal database. Zunggeemoge returned to find Luviano roughing up Carrillo. Instead of de-escalating the violence, Zunggeemoge rushed into the room and helped Luviano smash Carrillo’s face against the ground.

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Deputies Plead Guilty to Covering Up Assault Against Inmate’s Brother

In this photo taken Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, carrying his belongings and blanket Derek Martinez, 37, waits to enter a his assigned cell block after his arrival at the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy Calif. Martinez, a second strike offender from Shasta County, has been serving a life term with the possibility of parole for first degree murder since 2007. California counties are thwarting the state's efforts to comply with a federal court order to reduce it's inmate population by sending state prisons far more convicts than anticipated including a record number of second-strikers. The state is trying to comply with a landmark restructuring of its criminal justice system through a nearly 3-year-old law pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown that keeps lower-level felons in county jails while reserving scarce state prison cells for serious, violent and sexual offenders.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Originally published on June 2, 2015, at NationofChange.org

Two Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies have agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges regarding a brutal assault against an inmate’s brother visiting the Men’s Central Jail (MCJ). After the first deputy pled guilty earlier this year, a second deputy agreed to plead guilty last week to lying to FBI agents during an interview concerning the use force employed against a handcuffed visitor who was not resisting. Both deputies have also agreed to testify against their former colleagues if the prosecution calls on them at trial.

On February 26, 2011, Gabriel Carrillo attempted to visit his brother in MCJ when deputies discovered that Carrillo’s girlfriend, Griselda Torres, had brought a cellphone into the facility. When questioned by deputies, Torres admitted that both she and Carrillo had their cellphones with them. After confirming that he did have a phone, Carrillo asked Deputy Pantamitr Zunggeemoge, “What are you going to do, arrest me?”

According to the initial report, Carrillo was placed in handcuffs and escorted to a nearby break room. After deputies removed the handcuff from Carrillo’s right wrist to fingerprint him, he attacked the deputies and attempted to escape. The deputies claimed that Carrillo was intentionally spitting blood at them as they shot him in the face with pepper spray. They admitted to punching Carrillo several times to subdue him before placing Carrillo in restraints again.

But according to the recent plea agreements, Carrillo did not assault the deputies and was unable to resist arrest because his hands were cuffed while they were beating and pepper-spraying him on the floor. Carrillo filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and the district attorney later dropped the charges against him. The county paid Carrillo $1.2 million to settle the civil suit.

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Undersheriff and Captain Indicted on Federal Obstruction Charges

Originally published on May 16, 2015, at NationofChange.org

A former Los Angeles undersheriff and sheriff’s captain surrendered to authorities on Thursday after a federal grand jury indicted them on obstruction and conspiracy charges. Accused of corruptly influencing and impeding an FBI investigation into abuse and bribery within the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD), former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka and retired Captain William “Tom” Carey allegedly ordered deputies to secretly transfer an FBI informant under false names and engage in witness tampering. Former Capt. Carey has also been accused of providing false testimony in two separate trials.

In September 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a report documenting over 70 instances of excessive force, misconduct, and sexual assault committed by deputies. A few months later, the ACLU sued the Sheriff’s Department accusing then-Sheriff Lee Baca and Undersheriff Tanaka of covering up and condoning violence against prisoners. After attempting several times to notify Baca and his staff about the abuses, corruption, and misconduct committed by deputies at Men’s Central Jail (MCJ) in Downtown Los Angeles, former sheriff’s commander Bob Olmsted contacted the FBI.

“I knew I had to act, and as a result, I notified the FBI of the department’s culture and acceptance of excessive force, inmate abuse, sheriff’s gangs, and corruption,” admitted retired Cmdr. Olmsted.

According to the indictment, a former deputy, an ACLU employee, numerous inmates, and a chaplain all reported witnessing deputies using excessive force against inmates. In May 2010, a former LASD deputy trainee reported to Carey that the trainee, his training officer, and several other deputies participated in a premeditated beating of an inmate with mental disabilities.

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Seven Corrupt Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputies Sentenced to Prison

Originally published on December 17, 2014, at NationofChange.org

Seven Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputies have been sentenced to federal prison for obstructing an FBI investigation into their department. Upon discovering an inmate working as an FBI informant, the deputies illegally concealed the prisoner, threatened an FBI agent, and attempted to influence witnesses. Although the deputies repeatedly asserted they had been following the orders of former Sheriff Lee Baca and then-Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, no charges have been filed against Baca or Tanaka.

As a sheriff’s commander under Baca, Bob Olmsted attempted several times to notify Baca and his staff about the abuses, corruption, and misconduct committed by deputies at Men’s Central Jail (MCJ) in Downtown Los Angeles. In 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the Sheriff’s Department accusing Baca of covering up and condoning violence against prisoners. In 2011, the ACLU released a report documenting over 70 instances of excessive force, misconduct, and sexual assault committed by deputies.

“I knew I had to act, and as a result, I notified the FBI of the department’s culture and acceptance of excessive force, inmate abuse, sheriff’s gangs, and corruption,” admitted retired Cmdr. Olmsted.

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