A leaked video showing Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies beating on a detainee is the latest controversy surrounding the embattled law enforcement department.
Six deputies can be seen pummeling Jesus Soto Jara, 32 years old, was last week seen at downtown Los Angeles’ Inmate Reception Center.
Soto Jara’s lawyers are accusing the deputy commanders of using excessive force on him and violating all his civil rights.
Jose Romero, one of Soto Jara’s lawyers, says his client is suffering serious injuries from the scuffle with deputies.
“He is suffering from injuries to his back, his head and left eye sustained this past Monday,” Romero told KTLA.
Soto Jara was just arrested for drug possession and held a firearm on July 3.
His lawyers allege that Sotajara was compliant when a deputy began to handcuff his, but video proves that is when the violence began.
Several deputies, who arrived during the struggle and began to throw punches.
Soto Jara’s attorney says he was eventually pushed to an area that is off-camera and further assaulted.
“After taking his beating, he was given some medical attention but unfortunately sequestered from family and friends,” Romero said. “To this date he has not spoken to family, including his wife and son.”
Romero said that Romero’s client needs extra medical attention.
There was an altercation with another deputy and inmate before the incident. This is what you can see in the background of leaked video. Soto Jara’s attorney says his client was not involved in that altercation.
However, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department adamantly disputes those claims.
Monday evening, Sheriff Alex Villanueva released this statement: “Mr. Sotojara was involved in an argument with another inmate and had removed his shirt to fight the other inmate. Mr. Romero claimed the contact with Mr. Sotojara was ‘unprovoked’ and he was 100% not involved. This was inaccurate.”
Villanueva also disputed Romero’s assertions that Soto Jara was moved out of view of cameras, saying that the inmate holding area has cameras that shoot the entirety of the area, including other cameras that captured the incident.
The Sheriff’s Department also said Soto Jara was treated by multiple medical professionals for the injuries he sustained during the fight with deputies.
After the incident, an investigation was started to determine if force was necessary and justifiable.
Jose Perez, a civil rights attorney who is working as part of Soto Jara’s legal team, said this latest incident is another example of the Sheriff’s Department under Villanueva violating the rights of those who are in their care.
“I counted about 12 to 15 punches and Mr. Soto does not resist at all,” Perez said. “This is a pattern that’s been going on in the Sheriff’s Department.”
Perez continued to call the actions of LASD deputy deputies “amazing.” “pattern of unaccountability”He says “starts at the top.”
Villanueva’s department in recent months has faced other allegations of excessive use of force, including a March 2021 incident in which a deputy kneeled on an inmate’s neck for several minutes after they were put into handcuffs.
Some of Villanueva’s employees made accusations that Villanueva knew the video for months. However, they tried to hide the details after months of civil unrest that followed the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers.
Villanueva claimed that he had no prior knowledge of the video. The matter was immediately investigated and handled internally after Villanueva was informed of the use force incident. The Sheriff’s Department said the deputy involved was relieved of duty.
Sheriff also claimed that his office launched an investigation to find out who leaked video. He also accused Los Angeles Times of trying to use video to hurt his campaign during an election year.
Villanueva will be facing off against Robert Luna, the former Long Beach Police chief in a November runoff.