On Thursday, the ACLU called on the US Attorney’s Office to launch an independent criminal investigation into the beating of an LA County jail inmate, allegedly by two LA County Sheriff’s deputies. The incident was witnessed by the ACLU of Southern California’s jails monitor, Esther Lim.
This is from the ACLU’s Thursday press release.
The ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC) and the American Civil Liberties Union today called on the United States Attorney’s Office to launch an independent criminal investigation into last month’s brutal beating by two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) deputies of an inmate at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, part of the Los Angeles County Jail system.
The savage attack Jan. 24 on James Parker, detained on a non-violent marijuana charge, was witnessed by ACLU/SC’s Jails Project Coordinator Esther Lim, who is assigned to monitor all county jails, and another inmate. Both observed the two deputies beating and repeatedly tasering Parker for about two minutes while he was lying on the ground limp, motionless and not resisting the deputies in any way.
“It is crucial that the federal government launch an independent investigation immediately,” said Peter Eliasberg, ACLU/SC managing attorney. “A criminal investigation from an impartial outside agency will not only help the inmates but will also help all those deputies who work hard to do their job properly and who should not be painted with the same brush as those who may have violated the law by beating a non-resisting inmate.”
Sheriff’s department employees have made public statements challenging the motivation and integrity of Lim, calling into question the impartiality of the LASD. Lim would necessarily be a key witness in any criminal case filed against the deputies and so the statements by sheriff’s department employees could significantly harm any prosecution by the county district attorney that relies on an investigation by the LASD.
“It is odd, and indeed troubling, when a law enforcement spokesperson publicly disparages the credibility of a potential prosecution witness,” said Daniel Richman, a professor at Columbia University’s School of Law and former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “Such comments can undermine the appearance of impartiality critical to maintaining public trust in the criminal justice system. Moreover, if a prosecutor ends up bringing charges, the defense may try to use the comments to undermine the credibility of that witness, a problem that no prosecutor wants to deal with.”
James Parker, the inmate who was reportedly beaten by deputies, has been charged with the crime of battery with injury on a peace officer and resisting an officer in the performance of his duty. Although the sheriff’s department has launched a criminal investigation into the incident, the charges against Parker still stand.
Next week, I’ll post the detailed story of the Parker incident-–and its aftermath to date. I think you will find it to be a troubling and perplexing tale.