The FBI launched a criminal investigation over the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s (LASD) use of force in incidents involving its deputies.
According to a memo obtained by the Los Angeles Times publication, the FBI probe includes two high-profile incidents that happened within the last two years. Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna also made mention of FBI involvement while addressing one of the incidents last week.
The first incident in question occurred in the city of Palmdale after a 2022 traffic stop, where a deputy allegedly punched a mother in the face as she held her baby.
The stop occurred because the vehicle allegedly drove at night with its headlights off. The responding officers allegedly smelled alcohol in the car that held four women, three children and a male driver. The deputies also allege that the babies were being held by the women, in lieu of car seats.
As the deputies attempted to take the children and detain those in the vehicle, one of the mothers refused, which allegedly led to a deputy punching her in the face twice.
Sheriff Luna held a July 12 press conference after deputy body-cam footage was publicly released and called the incident “completely unacceptable.”
Luna said the body-cam footage was transferred to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, where it will decide if the deputy will face criminal charges for the incident.
“I found the punching of the woman in these circumstances unacceptable,” Luna said. “While this incident occurred one year ago before my term as sheriff began, I took swift action upon learning of this incident several days ago. I must note that state law precludes me from disclosing disciplinary actions taken in this matter.”
The second incident being investigated involved a woman who was allegedly tossed to the ground outside a supermarket in the city of Lancaster. Body-cam footage for that incident also was made public by LASD, with additional footage from an onlooker being widely shared on social media and news publications before LASD addressed the incident.
LASD deputies were called for an alleged robbery, detaining a man outside the store before attempting to detain a woman who was recording on her cellphone. The deputy appeared to approach the woman, swinging her off her feet and onto the ground.
In both instances, Sheriff Luna said he addressed the altercations as soon as he was made aware of them.
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