Sheriff Baca reopens cases of alleged inmate abuse by deputies

Robert Faturechi (Los Angeles Times) | October 9, 2011

Amid mounting scrutiny of reported brutality in his jails, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca released a plan Sunday promising to reexamine multiple allegations of deputy abuse and to improve inmate safety.

Among the cases Baca said his department would reopen is that of a top rookie sheriff’s deputy who abruptly resigned after he was allegedly forced by his supervisor to beat a mentally disabled inmate inside Twin Towers jail. In that case, The Times has reported, the rookie’s uncle, a sheriff’s gang detective, was so upset about what his nephew was put through that he allegedly threatened to “put a bullet” in the supervisor’s head.

Baca also pledged to reopen inquiries into dozens of allegations of abuse made by inmates and jailhouse volunteers, including two chaplains, that were recently compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The sheriff’s move comes amid a flurry of FBI scrutiny of alleged jailhouse abuse and other deputy misconduct.  Federal authorities are probing at least three cases of potential brutality, including an allegation that jailers beat an inmate for two minutes after he became unconscious. Agents also recently set up an undercover sting in which a deputy was offered $1,500 to smuggle a cellphone to a Men’s Central Jail inmate who was secretly working as a federal informant.

U.S. Atty. Andre Birotte Jr. has declined to comment on whether his department plans to launch a broader inquiry — known as a pattern and practice investigation — of the L.A. County jails.

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Photo credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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