Another Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department official claims Alex Villanueva attempted to cover up an internal video where a deputy kneeled on an inmate’s neck.
Former Captain Angela Walton said she was asked to file a false memo in connection with the cover-up. After refusing, Walton was allegedly demoted.
“Respondents subjected Claimant to an adverse employment action by removing and demoting her from her current unit of assignment on April 18, 2022 in retaliation for her protected whistleblowing activities, including, but not limited to, refusing to participate in Sheriff Villanueva’s fraudulent kneeling video timeline,” the lawsuit from Walton said. “Other similarly situated LASD officials have been allowed to keep their jobs while on leave such as Claimant, such as Commander Josie Woolum who has largely been out of work injured for the past six months without having her duties, responsibilities, and subordinates removed from her.”
Like past claims, Walton alleges Villanueva knew about the video’s existence despite his insistence that he was not made aware until 8 months after the incident.
Her claim is similar to claims made by former LASD Chief Lajuana Haselrig, former LASD Assistant Sheriff Robin Limon, and former LASD Commander Allen Castellano.
“This just keeps getting worse,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said after the second claim against Villanueva. “It seems the Sheriff did see the video of his deputies kneeling on a handcuffed man’s neck soon after it happened, tried to cover it up, retaliated against his own employees, and intimidated a reporter who brought the truth to light.”
The video was leaked to the Los Angeles Times, as they reported on the incident on March 25. Nearly a month later, Sheriff Villanueva held a press conference pertaining to the incident investigation and the leaked video investigation.
Here’s the footage of Deputy Douglas Johnson kneeling on the head of Enzo Escalante, leaked to Knock LA. @AleneTchek reported on claims that Sheriff Villanueva directed a cover-up of the investigation of this use-of-force & is now the subject of a department investigation. pic.twitter.com/ELj7K2N7Yq
— Knock LA (@KnockDotLA) April 27, 2022
In his April 26 press conference, Villanueva said the claims against him were being made by a disgruntled employee and alluded to Los Angeles Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian possibly being connected to the investigation of the leaked video.
“We don’t have time for this internal, ‘Let me see if we can blow up the Sheriff’s somehow,’ nonsense,” Villanueva said during the press briefing. “We have serious issues to handle out there… on top of that we have this circus that’s entirely orchestrated for political purposes, only.”