The second official claimed that the LA County mayor tried to cover up Vice’s use of excessive force 2022-04-29 01:54:58


Lemon claimed in a lawsuit filed Thursday that Villanueva retaliated against her “for being a whistleblower in several instances of unlawful and other unlawful conduct and for covering up the incident of excessive use of force.”

This incident occurred on March 10, 2021, in the San Fernando District Court. Lemon alleged that an inmate hit a deputy who knelt on his head and “restricted his breathing for a long time after” the prisoner stopped resisting.

The deputy’s actions, which were recorded on video, are reminiscent of the actions of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin against George Floyd Alleged legal complaint. Jury selection for the Chauvin murder trial began the day before.

But instead of following appropriate procedures, Villanueva sought to prevent any further action related to the accident to avoid “bad media,” Lemon claimed.

In a statement to CNN, the Sheriff’s Department said, “Due to multiple active investigations, and two civil lawsuits, we cannot comment further at this time. We look forward to the facts being presented in court.”

Villanueva, who heads Oath of the Grand Mayor of the State, For re-election in June.

The official has a history of “reporting and raising concerns”

Lemon alleges that she brought a DVD with a video of the courtroom incident to Villanueva around March 15, 2021, after learning about it from other officers.

After watching the video, Villanueva told her that the mayor’s department “doesn’t need bad media at this time,” and said it would “deal with the matter,” the prosecution said.

The sheriff then prevented an internal investigation and charges of assault being brought against the inmate involved in the incident because “Villanueva knew that if assault charges were brought against the inmate, his defense attorney would have access to the video and the public could see it,” the claim claims.

Lemon also later accused Sharif of lying when he initially watched the video “to fit a false timeline”.

Prosecutors state that Lemon has a history of “reporting and raising concerns” about the mayor’s wrongful behavior after the 2021 incident.

This behavior includes “usually ordered to retaliate against persons of differing opinions and whistleblowers”, use of department resources “to advance his political campaign for re-election” and the promotion of individuals who are disqualified or found to have committed wrongful acts or were under investigation, the alleging claim.

Lemon is asking the county to pay $5 million in damages for what she claims is a pattern of mayor’s retaliation against her, including four demotions.

Another official makes similar allegations

The The Los Angeles Times originally reported Allegations of a cover-up and publication of excerpts from surveillance video of the 25 March courthouse incident.

Video obtained by The Times shows an inmate beating a deputy before being tied to the floor. While on the floor, the deputy puts his knee on the inmate’s head, and keeps him there even after the inmate stops resisting, and he is held by several officers and handcuffed, according to the video obtained by The Times.

The newspaper reported that the deputy kept his knee on the head of the inmate for three minutes.

In its initial article, the newspaper reported on an internal review by Commander Alain Castellano, who criticized how the case was handled.

Castellano wrote in the review that administration officials were concerned about the optics of the case “due to its nature and similarities to the widespread use of force that George Floyd had deployed,” adding that those officials decided not to bring criminal charges against the inmate to avoid drawing attention to the incident, according to the Times.

A police ministry spokesman said earlier that the mayor learned of the incident in October and immediately ordered an investigation into the deputy, who was relieved of duty, the newspaper reported. At a press conference on Tuesday, the mayor said he had originally seen the video of the accident In November, The October date given by his officer earlier was an estimate.
The newspaper reported that Castellano was the first official to file a legal case this week, accusing Villanueva of obstruction of justice. Like Lemon, the sheriff allegedly watched the video just days after the accident, according to him times.

Sharif criticizes reporter over cover-up story

In his press conference, Villanueva sharply criticized and referred to the journalist who was reporting on the case and the allegations of the cover-up, Alain Chekmedian, was under investigation.
The sheriff attempted to retract those comments later in the day, saying at Section Tweet that “at no time today did I mention that a Los Angeles Times reporter was a suspect in a criminal investigation. We have no interest in pursuing, nor are we prosecuting, criminal charges against any journalist.”
Villanueva has Claimed without evidence That the media was strategically timing negative stories to harm his reelection bid.

His comments on Tuesday alarmed press freedom advocates. “The implicit insinuation that Allen Chekmedian did anything wrong by reporting law enforcement behavior shows a fundamental lack of understanding of how journalists work,” Kathryn Jacobsen, US-Canada program coordinator for CPJ, told CNN.

“Journalists should not be vilified or threatened with investigation simply for doing their job and covering matters of public interest,” Jacobsen added.

At a news conference late last month, Sheriff also accused the Los Angeles County Inspector General of intentionally releasing negative information about the department just before the Villanueva campaign kicked off.

In a letter sent to the sheriff Last month Los Angeles County Inspector General Max Huntsman has requested documents that have not yet been delivered to investigators as part of the investigation into Gang deputies in the mayor’s office. In that letter, Huntsman said that at least 41 lawmakers have so far been identified as gang members.

In an earlier statement, Villanueva described the investigation into law enforcement gangs as “a hunting trip and political theater.”

CNN’s Taylor Romain and Jason Kravarik contributed to this report.