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L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva Sued by Black Men Beaten After Calling 9-1-1 for Help

| lafocus | | 1 Comment

Staff

Two Black men are suing Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva in federal court, alleging that the Sheriff has created an atmosphere within the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) that the violation of civil rights is not only approved by the department, including egregious acts of violence.

Filed by Attorney Faisal Gill on November 5, the 37-page lawsuit stems from a Dec. 1, 2020, incident in Inglewood, Calif., when Christopher Chambers called 9-1-1 seeking aid for his brother-in-law, Larry Jefferson, who was having a mental health episode.  

No law enforcement agency, or any other emergency services agency responded to his call.

A couple of hours later, there was a car accident in front of Mr. Chambers’ home near 104th Street and Van Ness Ave in Inglewood. Larry Jefferson, still having a mental health episode, went out in the street and started to direct traffic like a traffic cop. In their response to the accident, LASD Sheriff Deputies first encountered Mr. Jefferson, who was standing in front where the deputies’ vehicle was trying to go. 

Jefferson asked the deputies to help the individuals in the car accident.  They, in turn, asked Mr. Jefferson to move, but he did not.  They used the car’s intercom system to tell him to move. Mr. Jefferson said that he was “not afraid of them.”

A deputy immediately placed his hand on his gun holster.

Mr.  Jefferson again repeated that he was “not afraid of them.”

According to the lawsuit, Mr. Jefferson did not make any threatening moves, nor did he have any weapons on him.

Deputies got out of their vehicle and tased Mr. Jefferson and also hit him with rubber bullets of which the force of sent Mr. Jefferson flying back where he landed on the ground.

Witnessing his brother-in-law being tased and being hit by rubber bullets, Mr. Chambers came out of his house in pajamas and was telling the deputies that Mr. Jefferson is “not right in his mind.”

When Mr. Chambers came out, he was not armed and did not make any threatening moves towards the deputies. Yet despite that, Mr. Chambers was attacked by four deputies and slammed to the ground.

The deputies had their knee on his neck and Mr. Chambers was not able to breathe. Despite asking numerous times, the deputies would not get off of him. Out of desperation, Mr. Chambers questioned, “Is this how you treat the son of a police officer?”   Surprised, the deputies immediately pulled him up.

After he was up, both Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Chambers went to the hospital, after which Mr. Chambers was taken to the South Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station and charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.  He was released from jail the next day.

The charges against Mr. Chambers were eventually dropped.

“If I hadn’t, out of desperation, said I was the son of a police officer, I probably would have been hurt much worse or even killed,” said Christopher Chambers. 

In addition to Sheriff Villanueva, the lawsuit also lists the County of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and all of the deputies involved as defendants.

“Alex Villanueva has created an environment in the Sheriff’s Department which promotes the use of weapons, such as rubber bullets,” said Chambers and Jefferson’s Attorney Faisal Gill.  “He’s been quoted as saying that these weapons are ‘designed to get someone’s attention without injuring them,’ even though he and the Sheriff’s Department are aware of the high risk of injury these weapons pose.

“Villanueva continues to expand this violent environment within the Sheriff’s Department by advocating for, and rehiring, former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies who have been found to use unreasonable force and fail to use de-escalation on multiple occasions,” Gill continued.  “But maybe worse of all is his actions and outward support for deputies who have committed egregious acts of violence and violations of civil rights.”

The lawsuit—seeking $5 million in damages— alleges unlawful seizure, excessive force, failure to intervene, battery, negligence, and a violation of both Mr. Chambers and Mr. Jefferson’s civil rights. 


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| lafocus | | 1 Comment

Comment

  • The LA Sheriffs department has always been a bastion of racism. The current culture isn’t something new. The culture is well ingrained. I was working one night at LaBrea and Slauson interviewing Musicians at a local club. Next to the club myself and an assistant pulled up in a VW. A LA Sheriffs car was parked on the opposite side of the street. We started unloading our gear taking it inside the club. The Sheriffs depity pulled by us going around the Building coming back on the other side of the building. Park drew his weapon had my helper and I laid out in the dirt. In the process the celebrity we we working for arrived and saw what was taking place. He told the Deputy these men are working for me, what is the problem. The deputy told if he didn’t move on he would join us in the dirt. The deputy called his Sgt. the Sgt. arrived I told him what had taken place. The Sgt replied the deputy thought we were driving a stolen car “A Buick”. A VW bug looks nothing like any make of Buick. I told the sgt. this man saw us moving the equipment into the club, this man was an out and out racist. The deputy got really upset when I made the statement. He stated he should have kicked my ass, I told him you wouldn’t like to drop that gun and badge and go for it. He then arrested me for threatening him. I was given a ticket to appear in court in Inglewood and released. In the court room the Judge asked what took place and I told him what the officer did. at no time did I issue a threat, I only told him a fact I would defend myself period. The judge asked the officer and he stated basically the same in formation. The judge looked at me and said case dismissed, he turned to the officer and said to him, if it was possible he wouldn’t wear that badge.

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