By CARLOS GRANDA
LOS ANGELES, California (KABC) — The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is facing a new allegation of deputies assaulting an inmate in a county jail.
Surveillance video shows the inmate as sheriff’s deputies start to attack him. Jose Romero, an attorney representing the inmate’s family, says he was not resisting in any way.
“He is suffering from injuries to his back, his head and his left eye. As I saw him on Friday, his left eye was still red,” Romero said.
Romero said the incident happened on July 4 at Men’s Central Jail.
The man is 32-year-old Jesus Soto Jara. He had been arrested on a drug charge with a weapon.
Referring to the video, Romero said there was an incident just a few feet away, but Soto Jara was not part of it.
“The gentleman up here was in a scuffle physically with the gentleman on the ground,” Romero said, pointing at another individual in the video. “My client was in the area, that’s his tier. That’s where he’s housed at. He’s being compliant with officer number one, as you see officer number two approach, they slam him against the door. He’s still not fighting. He is holding himself, defending.”
The video showed two deputies swinging and punching Soto Jara.
Romero says the family has been to the jail but they haven’t been able to see their loved one to check on his injuries. He is reportedly being kept away from other people in the facility.
Romero says he had trouble seeing his client.
“Right now he’s in what’s called IRC, inmate reception center — temporary housing. Which is a move, really, utilized by the sheriff’s department to keep them away from everybody, including civil lawyers,” Romero said. “They had to verify that I’m a criminal lawyer. They didn’t even want to let my colleague in to visit him.”
Earlier this year, video surfaced showing a fight where one L.A. County deputy placed his knee on an inmate’s neck. The encounter was hidden for months and there are accusations that L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva ordered his staff to cover up the incident.
Soto Jara’s family also hired civil attorney Jose Perez.
“Soto did not resist at all, so this is a pattern that’s been going on with her sheriff’s department,” Perez said. “It’s a pattern on accountability and that accountability starts from the very top.”
The sheriff’s department issued a statement saying: “Due to the incident being under investigation, we are unable to provide further information at this time.”
The sheriff’s department issued another statement calling Romero’s allegations “categorically incorrect and misleading.”
“He merely provided a fragment of the facts surrounding the incident, including the inmate was intentionally taken out of camera view and beaten. This is incorrect, in fact the LASD has multiple cameras covering the entire incident,” the statement said.
“The video provided by Mr. Romero was apparently recorded from the Dvtel system and released without official permission and did not encompass the entire incident. Prior to the contact with the deputies, 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.”
LASD said Soto Jara received medical attention. Besides being arrested for possession of a controlled substance while armed with a weapon, Soto Jara was arrested by Claremont police on five other charges, including felon in possession of a firearm, according to LASD.
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