Cops Allegedly Beat Mentally Ill Man in Compton Park Bathroom
How bad do you have to be beaten for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department to look at your injuries and say, Hmm, this deserves an internal investigation?
Must have been bad, because over the weekend the department said the man's condition inspired a higher level of inquiry. *And it said that it was investigating an allegation that at least one deputy might have opened fire in the confrontation with 29-year-old Barry John Montgomery, who's 5 feet, 6 inches, 120 pounds.
Montgomery's sister told NBC Los Angeles that he is a paranoid schizophrenic who doesn't always respond immediately to strangers:
Sheriff's officials said the use of force happened last Monday about 9:34 p.m. in Compton's Enterprise Park, which is just a few blocks from where Montgomery lives with is parents.
Deputies were on a "routine patrol check" of the park when they came across Montgomery, according to a sheriff's statement:
Deputies observed a man sitting on a bench and smelled what they identified to be the odor of marijuana in the immediate area. They contacted 29-year-old Barry John Montgomery, to conduct an investigation pursuant to the odor of marijuana. Suspect Montgomery was detained and a warrant check was initiated. The suspect became verbally confrontational and subsequently attempted to punch one of the deputies. The deputies then struggled with the suspect and took him into custody.
The department says that one deputy was treated for injuries. The suspect had to be hospitalized before he was arrested, according to the sheriff's statement.
An internal investigation was launched when supervisors realized how badly Montgomery had been hurt, according deputies:
Due to the level of injuries sustained by the suspect the Sheriff’s Internal Affairs Bureau was notified and assumed the investigation. ... The Department was made aware of additional allegations relating to the incident at Enterprise Park wherein a possible shooting occurred and additional deputies were involved in the confrontation with Suspect Montgomery.
Family members say he was at the park to shoot some hoops and had stayed beyond closing time. Deputies ultimately arrested Montgomery on suspicion of obstructing police and possession of marijuana.
He was released on bond Thursday night and has a court date scheduled for Wednesday.
The man's family has obtained legal representation, and an attorney told NBC Los Angeles that Montgomery had been taken to a park bathroom to be beaten some more by cops that night.
His back, ribs, and face, including possible eye socket trauma, were injured, family members said. The man's sister, Ty Montgomery, told the station this:
By him being schizophrenic and ignoring the officers, I guess they thought he was ignoring them on purpose. But he, it’s not on purpose. He doesn't communicate. He's a paranoid schizophrenic, he just walks up the street. Walk back, play ball.
The sheriff's department is asking for any witnesses to come forward: 310-605-6500. Witnesses can also call anonymously: 800-222-TIPS.
*So far there's no evidence of any shots being fired, the department told us. We changed the wording of this sentence to reflect this more accurately.
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