FBI opens criminal investigations into violent Los Angeles County deputy encounters

Jul 15, 2023, 12:59 PM

In this image taken from police body camera provided by Los Angeles Sheriff's office on June 24, 20...

In this image taken from police body camera provided by Los Angeles Sheriff's office on June 24, 2023, a Sheriff's deputies arrested a couple in a grocery store parking lot in Lancaster, Calif. The Los Angeles County sheriff has opened an investigation into two deputies' actions after a bystander's cellphone footage showed one of them tackling a woman while she filmed her husband being handcuffed in what the scandal-ridden department described as disturbing. (Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office via AP)

(Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The FBI has opened criminal investigations into violent encounters involving Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, including one in which a deputy punched a woman in the face as she held her baby.

Federal authorities visited the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department headquarters to take documents related to the probes, according to an email obtained by the newspaper, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

Department officials confirmed the visit and told the newspaper they planned to cooperate with investigators.

The second case being scrutinized by the FBI involves a deputy who threw a woman to the ground by her neck last month in a grocery store parking lot after she started recording an arrest with her cellphone.

In addition to the federal investigations, the California Department of Justice has agreed to review the case of 18-year-old Andres Guardado, who was shot in the back three years ago by a sheriff’s deputy in the city of Gardena, south of Los Angeles, the email said.

An FBI spokesperson would not confirm that agents were conducting a criminal investigation into either incident.

The internal county email obtained by the newspaper said that “federal criminal investigations have been opened concerning the recent incidents” in Palmdale and Lancaster, north of Los Angeles.

The Palmdale case involved a July 2022 traffic stop but did not become public until this week, when Sheriff Robert Luna called a news conference to release body camera footage and announce that the deputy involved had been relieved of duty.

The eight-minute video was taken during the traffic stop after Palmdale deputies spotted a vehicle being driven at night without any headlights. When they pulled it over, the deputies smelled alcohol and saw four women inside, three of them with babies in their arms rather than in car seats, authorities said.

The deputies began to arrest the women on suspicion of felony child endangerment, and used force on two of the women when they resisted giving up their babies. The bulk of the video shows a tense conversation between a group of deputies and one woman who clutches her baby while sitting cross-legged on the ground. The deputies are heard saying that the woman was riding in a car driven by someone without a valid license, and that her baby was not in a car seat.

After several minutes of back-and-forth, deputies pry the woman’s hands apart, and she begins screaming as the child is removed from her arms. Nearby, another woman holding a baby begins screaming and cursing at officers before deputies announce they plan to arrest her too.

As at least two deputies hold the woman by her wrists and arms, a third male deputy can be seen throwing two punches toward her head while she is still holding her baby. It is unclear in the video whether the punches connected with the woman’s head, but she howls in pain.

The FBI is also investigating a June 24 case when deputies responded to 911 calls reporting a robbery in progress at a grocery store in Lancaster. They encountered a man and a woman who they said matched the descriptions of the suspects given to 911, according to authorities.

As the deputies handcuffed the man in the parking lot, the woman began taking video with her phone. Within seconds, one of the deputies rushes toward her and reaches for her arm, seemingly in an attempt to take the phone.

“You can’t touch me,” she screams. The deputy throws her on the ground, and video shows him arguing with her, and at one point threatening to punch her. He then pepper-sprays her in the face and handcuffs her.

The man who was handcuffed was ultimately cited on suspicion of resisting an officer, attempted petty theft and interfering with a business. The woman was hospitalized for the effects of the pepper spray and for abrasions to her arm. She was released but cited on suspicion of assaulting an officer, as well as battery on allegations that she had assaulted store loss prevention personnel, the newspaper said.

Luna has vowed to overhaul the nation’s largest sheriff’s department since taking charge in December.

National News

Associated Press

All Oneboard electric skateboards are under recall after 4 deaths and serious injury reports

NEW YORK (AP) — All models of Onewheel self-balancing electric skateboards are under recall after at least four deaths and multiple injuries were reported in recent years, federal regulators said last week. The 300,000 now-recalled skateboards, manufactured by the California-based Future Motion, can stop balancing a rider if the boards’ limits are exceeded — which […]

28 minutes ago

Associated Press

Search resumes for missing 9-year-old girl who vanished during camping trip in upstate New York park

MOREAU, N.Y. (AP) — Law enforcement, forest rangers and others resumed searching an upstate New York park on Monday for a 9-year-old girl who vanished during a camping trip over the weekend. Charlotte Sena may have been abducted while riding her bicycle Saturday evening in Moreau Lake State Park, about 35 miles (60 kilometers) north […]

32 minutes ago

Associated Press

$1.04 billion Powerball jackpot tempts players to brave long odds

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An estimated $1.04 billion Powerball jackpot will be up for grabs Monday night, tempting players to spend a couple dollars on a longshot chance at instant riches. The prize is the world’s ninth-largest lottery prize behind earlier drawings of Powerball and Mega Millions, the other nearly nationwide lottery game. The […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

US expands probe into Ford engine failures to include two motors and nearly 709,000 vehicles

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. auto safety investigators have expanded a probe into Ford Motor Co. engine failures to include nearly 709,000 vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also said in documents posted Monday on its website that it upgraded the investigation to an engineering analysis, a step closer to a recall. The investigation now […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Car drives through fence at airport, briefly disrupting operations, officials say

A car crashed through a fence at Maine’s busiest airport, traveled on a service road alongside a runway and then was abandoned, causing a brief disruption, officials said. The episode unfolded Sunday morning at Portland International Jetport, when the abandoned sedan was spotted after it had crashed into a second fence in a secure area […]

3 hours ago

File - The Southern University Human Jukebox marching band warms up before the 2023 National Battle...

Associated Press

Federal student loan payments are starting again. Here’s what you need to know

Federal student loan borrowers will need to start making payments again this month after a three-year-plus pause due to the pandemic.

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

FBI opens criminal investigations into violent Los Angeles County deputy encounters