Inmate abuse: LA County Sheriff’s Department accused of misconduct reports in jails

Lee Baca

WHO: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

WHAT: Sheriff Lee Baca’s staff raised concerns nearly two years ago about deputy misconduct and brutality against inmates, confidential memos show. Internal documents detail cases in which deputies used unnecessary force, then escaped punishment, the Los Angeles Times reported.

HOW: One report outlines more than 100 violent encounters with inmates and found that jailers invented narratives “dramatized to justify” force. Deputies also delayed using weapons such as pepper spray and stun guns that could end confrontations “to dispense appropriate jailhouse ‘justice,’” the report said. Another document shows that injuries to inmates were not documented.

WHAT’S BEING DONE: Cmdr. James Hellmold said the reports, dating back nearly two years, never reached Baca. “The sheriff has acknowledged … that he needs to find out what the commanders have done, and what information they had at what time,” Hellmold told the Times. Spokesman Steve Whitmore said the memos prompted additional use-of-force training.

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