Los Angeles County settles police black, Hispanic federal discrimination case

29 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Los Angeles County Settles Civil Rights Case With Feds.

LOS ANGELES — The nation’s largest sheriff’s department agreed to a sweeping settlement Tuesday with the U.S. NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California city will once again consider allowing water-propelled jetpacks in its harbor following a six-month moratorium imposed after residents complained about noise and possible injuries. The Los Angeles Times reports (http://bit.ly/1HNTHFZ ) the Newport Beach City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would allow one jetpack business to operate in the harbor and prohibit others.

After a two-year investigation, the justice department in 2013 accused the county and the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale of waging a campaign of discrimination against African American residents, particularly those living in low-income subsidized housing. Federal officials said some sheriff’s personnel in the Antelope Valley had engaged in a “pattern or practice of unconstitutional and unlawful policing regarding stops, searches and seizures, excessive force, and discriminatory targeting of voucher holders in their homes.” That targeting often took the form of teams of armed sheriff’s deputies accompanying county housing agency investigators on surprise inspections of Section 8 housing, looking for violations of housing rules. Under the agreement approved 4-1 by the board, the sheriff’s department admitted no wrongdoing, but agreed to be monitored by three outside experts and must meet 150 requirements over the next four years. 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. 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 details of the settlement slated for approval Tuesday have not been publicly released, but a county official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the settlement will require the sheriff’s department to comply a list of requirements relating to training, use of force and community engagement. 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. Among accomplishments he highlighted in a press release were training in constitutional law, racial profiling awareness and policies regarding traffic stops and arrests.

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 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.

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