We featured him on the cover of L.A. Weekly in May 2011.
Gabriel Carrillo had gone to Men's Central Jail on Feb. 26 of that year to visit a younger brother arrested on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon, only to be beaten so severely by deputies that he had to get stitches over an eyebrow that topped an eye that was swollen shut.
There was much blood on the floor, and Carrillo passed out at one point during the beating – only to awaken to more blows. This week, his attorney announced the laborer was getting a $1.175 million settlement from Los Angeles County, which runs the facility and employed the deputies:
Following the beating, criminal charges against Carrillo were dismissed and cops involved in the attack were charged as part of a federal case alleging civil rights violations, false arrest and other counts.
Carrillo and his girlfriend say they inadvertently brought cellphones into the jail complex and that, when her phone fell to the floor, deputies swarmed, cuffing Carrillo.
He admits to mouthing off about how things would be different if he wasn't in handcuffs, and that's when, he says, the cops swarmed him.
L.A. Weekly's Chris Vogel wrote this account:
… A Sheriff's deputy knocked him to the floor with an uppercut.
Carrillo, 5 feet 6 and 160 pounds, doubled over in pain. Three deputies began kicking and punching the baby-faced 23-year-old in his head and thigh, tearing his white T-shirt while blood splattered on his blue jeans and Air Jordans.
With each blow, Carrillo felt his body jerk as his head bounced up and down on the cold, county building floor. He briefly lost consciousness, only to wake to the sting of punches to his head and face.
Through eyes purple with bruises and nearly swollen shut, Carrillo could see blood pouring out of his head onto the floor.
“I'm not fucking resisting,” he cried out.
Suddenly, Carrillo felt a blast of chemical spray. He was blinded and gasping for air as more punches pummeled his increasingly numb legs and torso. It was like being caught in a violent ocean wave, Carrillo recalls. Every time he tried to come up for air, another blow drove him back under.
“I can't breathe! I can't breathe!” Carrillo wheezed.
“Shut the fuck up,” Carrillo claims a deputy said. “If you can talk, you can breathe.”
Finally, Carrillo lay motionless, watching officers wipe his blood off the floor with clean towels, thinking to himself, “How did this happen? All I was trying to do was visit my brother in jail.”
Deputies allegedly tried to cover up what had happened. The office of attorney Ron Kaye states:
The settlement comes after the admission by Sergeant Eric Gonzalez, the supervisor present during the beating who approved the fabricated reports, that he sent a text message attached to a photo of Mr. Carrillo's beaten face to a fellow deputy who beat Mr. Carrillo's brother, which read: “Looks like we did a better job” …
Kaye alleges that the beating was an extreme example of more than a decade's worth of excessive force and cover-ups inside the county jail system. The festering violence helped to unseat longtime Sheriff Lee Baca, who claimed he was unaware of the problems until relatively recently.
Lawyer Marilyn Bednarski, a partner at Kaye, McLane, Bednarski & Litt, said:
This case epitomizes what the Los Angeles County Citizens Commission on Jail Violence identified as a long-standing pattern of conduct in the Sheriff's Department: deputies engaged in acts of brutality, then covered them up with false reports, and ultimately, the Sheriff's Department gave its rubber stamp of approval. Then, to add insult to injury, those false reports led the District Attorney's office to file criminal charges against Mr. Carrillo, which could have resulted in his spending up to 14 years in state prison.