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LA County deputy alleges 'Executioner' gang dominates Compton sheriff station

Alene Tchekmedyian and Maya Lau, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

The revelations were disturbing to observers who watched the department try to implement reforms following a jail abuse and corruption scandal that ultimately led to the convictions of several high-ranking officials including former Sheriff Lee Baca and his former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who was a tattooed member of the Vikings.

A top jail official had described exclusive gangs of deputies in Men's Central Jail who would "earn their ink" by breaking inmates' bones.

According to Gonzalez's claim, two other deputies complained in 2017 that they were being improperly punished with undesirable assignments for not meeting illegal quotas and were told by a sergeant: "Yes, you should have known that by now," according to the claim.

Illegal quotas resulted in deputies more than doubling their arrest numbers each month, which meant the "violation of the civil rights" of hundreds of residents, the claim states.

"This is an atomic bomb that has been dropped on law enforcement," John Sweeney, an attorney who represented Taylor's family, said of Gonzalez's claim.

Sweeney's firm brought another excessive-force case involving the same deputies in the Taylor case, which is pending in federal court. The county has denied allegations that the deputies beat the plaintiff, Sheldon Lockett, or used racial slurs against him during the incident in 2016.

Now, Lockett's attorneys are citing Gonzalez's claim in a court filing seeking to reopen discovery, depose several deputies again and examine their WhatsApp accounts.

 

Compton has long had a troubled history with law enforcement. In 2000, the city disbanded its police force after struggling to contain rising crime and gang violence.

The solution, as city leaders saw it, was to hire the Sheriff's Department to patrol the streets, a move advertised as a way to have more sophisticated policing that would save the city $7 million a year out of its $20-million budget for policing costs. Proponents claimed the money would be reinvested in the community and would lead to an economic revival.

But sheriff's deputies in Compton were increasingly seen as outsiders and developed a reputation among some locals for aggressive tactics. Deputies were heavily criticized in 2005 after firing about 120 rounds at a moving vehicle driven by an unarmed man, who was shot four times. In 2009, a 16-year-old boy was fatally shot in the back by a Compton station deputy, who claimed the boy pointed a gun at him. An attorney for the boy's family suggested the deputy planted the weapon.

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