Above the Law

Lawsuit: Sheriff's Jailers Force Homeland Security Officer Into Dangerous General Population Cell for Drunkenness

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Fri, Aug 5, 2011 at 2:19 PM
click to enlarge Even for Tango & Cash, jail ain't an easy place for the cops
  • Even for Tango & Cash, jail ain't an easy place for the cops
It's common sense that when a law enforcement officer gets arrested, the jail needs to place him in a segregated cell and not in with the general population, where the officer is likely to be torn apart and eaten alive by cop-hating brutes.

Bryant Roman, a Homeland Security investigator from L.A., certainly thought so last July when he found himself being booked for public drunkenness.

But no matter what he told the sheriff's deputies at the jail, says Roman, they would not listen, and ultimately threw his chicken-ass into a den of foxes.

Roman, who is suing L.A. County in federal court, says it all started on July 4. He was visiting his sister in L.A. for the holiday when a sheriff's deputy walked up to a closed gate in her front yard. Roman believes the officer was investigating firecrackers in the neighborhood.

Roman's sister told the officer he could not enter without a warrant, but Roman says the deputy ignored her and "without an explanation" opened the gate and "with force pushed [Roman] in the chest."

In response, Roman smacked the deputy's hand away from him.

"Don't touch me," Roman told the officer.

The next thing Roman knew, the deputy grabbed his arm and walked him over to his police car, where Roman was searched and handcuffed.

Roman claims the deputy began accusing him of being a gang member, and after seeing Roman's military ID, taunted Roman by asking the Iraq war veteran if they allow gangsters in the armed forces.

"Instead of giving him respect, they go after him and ask, 'What, are they letting gangsters into the military now?'" says Roman's attorney, Humberto Guizar. "The deputies stereotype people and thought he was someone they can get away with abusing. Cops are that stupid."

When Roman realized he was being arrested for public drunkenness - a charge that Guizar says was later dismissed - he wanted to tell the deputies that he was a federal officer, but did not for fear of violating Homeland Security regulations preventing him from disclosing his job.

Once Roman realized that he was going to get thrown in jail with the general population, he basically said screw the regulations and announced that he was a customs and border investigator and asked to be segregated from the masses.

However, says Roman, the deputies ignored him and put him in a cell with regular inmates.

By doing this, Roman charges, the deputies violated sheriff's department safety policy to separate officers from other criminals and in doing so, placed his life in jeopardy.

Guizar says it was miracle that nothing bad happened to Roman while in jail. Roman is suing the county and the deputies for falsely arresting him and for not following department policy.

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