Source: Los Angeles supervisors to vote on civil rights deal

29 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Los Angeles County settles Antelope Valley civil rights case with feds.

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. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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 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. Tenants told stories of being intimidated by as many as 10 armed deputies and Public Counsel said the crackdown created a climate of fear and hostility. In 2012, the county settled a suit brought by the NAACP and other civil rights organizations charging discrimination against residents of federally subsidized housing. Among accomplishments he highlighted in a press release were training in constitutional law, racial profiling awareness, and policies regarding traffic stops and arrests.

Other requirements under the DOJ settlement mandate community engagement and outreach efforts, including informing residents of their right to refuse searches.

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