Los Angeles County settles civil rights case with Justice Dept.

29 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

LA County settles federal civil rights case.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department agreed to a $725,000 settlement with the Justice Department, the result of a two-year investigation that found systematic civil rights abuses against minorities living in Antelope Valley, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

Justice Department to settle findings that the country’s largest sheriff’s department systematically harassed and intimidated low-income minority residents. Under the agreement, the Sheriff’s Department admits to no wrong-doing, but will comply with a series of recommended reforms, pay $25,000 in penalties and give $700,000 to minority victims of police harassment—substantially less than the $12 million the government originally demanded. Justice Department in a case alleging unconstitutional stops, searches, seizures and excessive force by sheriff’s deputies against blacks and Hispanics in the Mojave Desert, an official said.

Federal prosecutors announced two years ago that they found a pattern and practice of discrimination by deputies in the Antelope Valley cities of Palmdale and Lancaster. From the Associated Press: In at least one case, a deputy conducting a housing compliance check apparently helped fuel hatred by sending photographs of luxury vehicles in a home’s garage to the person who set up an “I Hate Section 8” page on Facebook.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the board had not yet voted, said the deal would require changes in training and use-of-force policies by the nation’s largest sheriff’s department. In particular, the report accused the sheriff and county housing agency investigators of waging a discriminatory campaign of surprise inspections and other actions against African-Americans living in federally funded Section 8 affordable-housing units in the area. The family’s home was vandalized with a racist message scrawled on the garage door and urine was thrown on their son by someone who called him a racial slur.

Some county and city officials defended their conduct at the time, denying they engaged in discrimination and asserting that Section 8 compliance checks were necessary to ensure residents were abiding by the terms of the public assistance program. The agreement is the second major settlement in less than six months since Sheriff Jim McDonnell took office and promised to reform the scandal-plagued department. The federal investigation also found that African Americans were disproportionately more likely to be stopped and searched than other residents and that deputies had used excessive force against handcuffed detainees.

Former Sheriff Lee Baca abruptly stepped down last year after 18 subordinates were charged with federal crimes ranging from beating inmates and jail visitors to obstructing justice. In December, supervisors approved a settlement requiring federal court oversight and a new use-of-force policy in a class-action lawsuit brought by jail inmates who claimed they were savagely beaten by guards.

The goal of the settlement is to provide a form of justice to those who were violated in the form of a monetary sum and action being taken against their violators. The settlement will also include monetary compensation to people whose rights were found to have been violated, but the amount of that payment has not been released. Among accomplishments he highlighted in a press release were training in constitutional law, racial profiling awareness, and policies regarding traffic stops and arrests.

However, according to the Daily News, the deal “calls for $700,000 to be placed into a settlement fund for victims of discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

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