Jail LA County Jail LASD

LASD Custody Assistant Charged with Assault for Allegedly Allowing Beating to Occur

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

A Los Angeles County jail guard, Jonathan Grijalva, has been charged with assault for allegedly looking the other way so that a group of three inmates could beat up fellow inmate Saul Steve Lira on February 15, 2014.* Lira suffered a concussion, broken nose, and fractured jaw.

At the time of the incident, Lira was housed in a dorm in the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic. (Lira was in jail for a parole violation. He had previously been convicted of burglary, assault with a firearm, and vehicle theft.)

In a civil lawsuit against the LA County Sheriff’s Department, Lira said he was beaten after the dorm’s “shot caller” ordered him to clean the dorm, and then was displeased with Lira’s cleaning job.

Grijalva was reportedly approached by an inmate who asked the officer to leave the area so that another inmate could be beaten under a stairway.

In the hours after the beating, Grijalva, who was supervising the dormitory, allegedly refused to help Lira get much-needed medical attention. Lira, whose face was bleeding, said that when he asked Grijalva for medical assistance, the guard told Lira to wait.

When the deputy clocked out several hours later, he had reportedly done nothing to help Lira.

Later that night, a different jail guard approached Lira about his injuries. Lira told the custody assistant that he “slipped and fell in the shower.” No one reportedly questioned the validity of Lira’s account.

Lira said in the complaint that he lied out of fear of retaliation from the inmates who beat him.

There are methods for getting hesitant witnesses to talk, “but you have to make sure they don’t feel they’re going to be tagged as a snitch,” Peter Eliasberg, legal director of the Southern California American Civil Liberties Union told the LA Times’ Maya Lau. “It concerns me that there wasn’t a thorough investigation until the inmate filed a civil rights claim.”

Lira reported that he was not given adequate medical care—only painkillers—in the first week after he was beaten. The day after the incident, February 16, Lira was transported to the hospital, where his injuries were diagnosed. A doctor instructed LASD staff to bring Lira back to the hospital three days later, on February 19, so that doctors could wire Lira’s jaw shut “to prevent further avoidable injury, pain, and suffering.”

On February 19, jail staff reportedly refused to return Lira to the hospital. On February 22, Lira said he wrote a formal complaint about not being taken back for the procedure.

Guards transported Lira to the hospital two days after the complaint was submitted.

The case is being prosecuted by the LA County District Attorney’s Office’s Justice System Integrity Division.

Grijalva has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, the guard faces up to four years in prison. He has been on unpaid leave since October. Prosecutors also filed an assault charge against Raul McDonald, an inmate who allegedly stood guard while Lira was beaten. McDonald faces up to eight years behind bars if convicted.

The charges against Grijalva—who is not accused of personally abusing an inmate, but giving tacit permission for a beating to occur among inmates—mark an unusual step forward. Similar incidents of deputies or custody assistants allowing beatings to occur have been reported, but discipline has been rare to nonexistent.

Professional Peace Officers Association President Brian Moriguchi said he thinks the words of the “shot caller” inmate were given too much weight by prosecutors and sheriff’s officials.

“They take the word of hardened criminals over law enforcement officials,” Moriguchi told the Times. “They’re trying to show the public that they don’t tolerate abuse by police officers, but they’ve taken that to an extreme.”

Since the beating, positive changes have been made at the jail. The sheriff’s department already had 100 cameras inside North County Correctional Facility, and plans to add 600 more, LASD spokeswoman Nicole Nishida told the Times. And sergeants are now reportedly required to conduct interviews with injured inmates.


EDITOR’S NOTE: We originally mistakenly wrote that the incident in question occurred in 2015, but it was 2014. Also, Grijalva is a custody assistant not a deputy.

31 Comments

  • It was a Custody Assistant, NOT a Deputy…and it occurred in 2014, NOT 2015. How about some fact checks before publishing?

  • Once again, the ACLU has all the answers. Please, Detective Eliasberg, tell us your magic formula that penetrates the hard shell of Mexican Mafia-controlled jail politics that gets victims of beatings to tell the truth. “I fell in the shower.” “I fell off my bunk.” I fell down the stairs.” “Nothing happened.” “Fuck you, Hura.” These are just some of the responses scared (or loyal to EME) inmates tell us when asked what happened to them, even in cases in which deputies witness in full view the beating they just sustained. And lest you think staff members simply watch beatings and do nothing, they actually charge into dormatories (greatly outnumbered by hostile cop-hating inmates) to rescue victims of beatings at the hands of numerous assailants on a regular basis.

    Thank you so much, Detective Eliasberg, the man with all the answers, for helping to neuter deputies in the jails so that they have been reduced to feckless bystanders. EME thanks you, patron, con mucho respecto.

  • EDITOR’S NOTE:

    Dear mejbp,

    Yes we saw both errors belatedly and made the necessary changes. But we always appreciate being alerted to typos or factual errors.

    C.

  • Hmm…the ACLU is reaching new lows to drum up business and keep sticking it to LASD staff it would seem. If you can’t find instances were deputies (or “jail guards”) abuse inmates by their own hands let’s go after them for conspiring with inmates (who of course are reliable) to go after other inmates. The Department is no help by taking the approach of fire em’ first and ask questions later with respect to staff.

    Where is the “righteous outrage” with regards to the assaults and gassing commuted against staff. These have gone up and continue to do so. There was a special about that on the news a couple of days ago. What is the department or ACLU and WLA going about that? Just because the folks put on uniforms and work the jails doesn’t mean their civil liberties don’t need protecting. I hope someone sues not only LASD, the ACLU and their executives for fostering, supporting and promoting an unsafe work environment, not protecting its employees and manipulating/cohersing inmates for personal gain.

  • Who wrote this ? NCCF is 2 floors not 6.. and impossible for him to be charged with assault. SMH .. someone needs to period read this writers facts and work

  • Celeste, your little editing paragraph at the bottom is fabulous, but how about fixing the emboldened headline on the story?!?!

  • NCCF is also a two level jail. There is no 6th floor. Also, a custody assistant and not a Deputy?? Yet again doing anything possible to slander the cops and mentioning nothing of what they go through. How nice. How noble.

  • EDITOR’S NOTE:

    “That One Person” & Don,

    Arrrggghhh. Clearly, we’re not having a good fact checking day. That last one about the floors is entirely my fault. I should have caught it. In the legal filing said the plaintiff was in dorm 619 on the 6th floor—and it slipped right by me.

    Thanks to all of you—again.

    C.

    PS: “Ownership,”—I did fix the &#$&!!$ headline earlier today—but I must’ve hit something that caused it to revert. (Editor leaves the room mumbling unhappily to self.)

  • Pedantries aside, a man got beaten and no one intervened or got him proper medical care. Someone was not doing their job. And the public will most likely foot the bill.

  • “First impressions are everything” and “Words matter” are a few phrases that pop into my mind. LASD and the members of law enforcement’s morale is at an all time low in this country. People always remember the first headline they read and never the retraction or correction. The jury pool reads this stuff, watches TV and it’s not a great academic leep with regards to how the “jail guard” will be judged and characterized. Hopefully the inmate sues the other inmates who attacked him and they foot the bill.

  • “First impressions are everything” and “Words matter” are a few phrases that pop into my mind. LASD and the members of law enforcement’s morale is at an all time low in this country. People always remember the first headline they read and never the retraction or correction. The jury pool reads this stuff, watches TV and it’s not a great academic leep with regards to how the “jail guard” will be judged and characterized. Hopefully the beaten inmate sues the other inmates who attacked him and they foot the bill.

  • Ok ese, here’s how it’s going to go down. We’re going to jump you vato. You’re gonna get a little fucked up. Then you’re going to claim the hura didn’t help you and sue them. We’ll get a cop fired and maybe even sent to the pinta. You call the ACLU and they’ll get you some good feria. You get half and we get half. It’s either that. or we just fuck you up for nada. And we’re gonna keep fucking you up every day till you decide you wanna get paid. What’s it gonna be vato? You want to get fucked up once and get paid for it? Or you want to get fucked up every day for nada? Your call ese.

    Nice job ACLU and LA County DA. You’ve opened the door for a whole new scam that will cause inmates to get beaten. The very thing you claim you are trying to stop. A scam that is a win/win and a very large payday for these shot callers. They don’t care about an assault charge, that is the least of any inmate who is a shot caller’s problem. If you think those inmates that run the jails won’t think of the above scam, you’re laughingly in the dark. They’re not stupid. They’re going to figure out very quickly how to use your “Good intentions” for them against the system and the jail personnel they don’t like.
    Once again, the naïveté of the do gooders is breathtaking.

  • Gentlemen, please. “Where is the “righteous outrage” with regards to the assaults and gassing commuted against staff.” “What is the department or ACLU and WLA going about that?” What the hell is the ACLU suppose to do for you? That is why you have your union. These inmates have nobaody and if the ACLU does not keep you in line, no one will.

    If anyone assaults a deputy, that person will go to jail, get their ass kicked, and more likely both. If they are already in jail, they will get more time, got to the hole or get their ass kicked, and more likely all of the above. The difference is that you, a deputy, are working on my dime, the public’s dime, and you have been entrusted to do and not do certain things. Enough complaining already. If you do not like the job, quit, and find something else that will allow you to get the same pay for the same work, but most of deputies will not and cannot. You complain about the government, but you have a government job. You complain about unions, but yours is one of the strongest unions. You complain about lawyers, but you’ll lawyer up.

    And, Oh Well, up to your Trumpist, conspiracy, alternative facts ideas. Do you really think someone wants to take their chances with three inmates under the stairs, getting their jaw wired shut? If a guard saw this coming and did nothing, he should be prosecuted, period. The kid at McDonalds screws up my order, I will point it out and he will probably apologize and make it right. If he refuses to give me my fries, he will get fired. So to should it be with those entrusted to protect and to serve, do your job and do it right. If you cannot or wont, don’t continue on public dime’s, that’s akin to the welfare you complain about. An, for you anthropologists and ethnographers in the department, its “Jura,” not “Hura.” In Spanish the H is silent, just as you should be.

    • CF…..FYI the Custody Assistant does have a decent union. Can’t say the same about the Deputies Union/ Association ALADS which is rife and plagued with favoritism and reckless spending. That why there is another union for the deputies which is LASPA.

  • Don’t you guys think you’re are being a little rough on Taylor. Facts smacts .I mean, I know it looks like she just got out of journalism school but she knows what’s important . It’s the evil white racist cop violates the person of color narrative that counts , not your inconvenient “facts”.

  • CF: Welcome back….I missed your radical leftist views….do you still own that T-shirt with “Che Guevara”. Just got back from Mexico….they refused to give me free healthcare, free education, and a driver”s license. They told me I would need to be a citizen first. No love for the brother up north….how’s that for gratitude….

  • CF,
    As to your question: “Do you think someone wants to take their chances with three inmates under the stairs, getting their jaw wired shut”.
    Not even a nice try. You completely ignored the reason I gave you why an inmate would choose that option. Because the other option is worse. It’s kind of the reason inmates make the choice to remain silent after they’ve had their ass kicked and not snitch off the perpetrators.
    Once again, you’ve got all the answers. Unfortunately they’re all wrong. You speak like an SME (That would be Subject Matter Expert) on the topic. Would you care to enlighten us on your experience and knowledge of prison gangs? Perhaps you could tell us how you’ve acquired that knowledge and experience. Time spent behind bars? No? Never been locked up? No problem. Perhaps you could tell us about your time spent working as a gang investigator for CDC. No?
    Now for the coup de grace to your naive question. The Jispanic (lol) street level drug dealers in Southern Califas don’t want to pay taxes either, but they do. Why do you think they do that? Uh huh. Because it’s the best option.
    You can sell your bullshit and sound like the smartest guy in the room at the coffee house in front of your Birkenstock wearing friends and your fellow Mechistas. Here however, your naïveté, arrogance and ass is showing. But by all means, dont let that stop you. After all, it’s about moving FORWARD with your agenda. Knowing what the fuck you’re talking about doesn’t have anything to do with it.

  • BTW CF,
    I nor anybody else has any indication that this caper was a set up. But IF the inmate gets a big payday, and the Custody Assistant gets fired (Not to mention doing time), you can stand by for the scams to start. That’s why I used the term “opened the door”.
    It WILL happen. It’s a moneymaker. The big homies are criminals, not idiots.

  • CF…What reality are you living in. All the lawsuits, monitoring, ACLU, ROSAS and other legal actions have ensured the inmates and not the staff are empowered and protected. The cameras throughout the jails and monitoring have made the staff easy victims and the inmates a protected class. If you think the folks that work in the jails are getting away with indiscriminately beating folks you clearly are never going to be satisfied that systems and changes have been put in place to make things better. Some folks are never satisfied and only believe what they want to believe…so sad.

    Oh, the men and women who choose to work the jails have chosen their profession just like you have chosen your calling, whatever it may be. They did not sign on to be mistreated, abused and maligned and if you think it’s fair, I think you should seek professional help. Long live free speech for all.

    And to think, inmates would try to run a scam to get someone else in trouble and get a easy pay check to boot. Never…

  • Conspiracy, seriously, are you Donald Trump? Donald, is that you? Did you get your little hands off your iPhone and onto a keyboard? So much whining. Stop it already. “The cameras” have made the “staff easy victims?” Please explain. If the deputies did not run around like cowboys kicking people’s ass or turning the other way when someone else is doing it, maybe you wouldn’t have the lawsuits or the monitoring. It’s neither part of the job description nor a job perk to be able to smack people around. And, when you do it, you should get criminally charged and you should loose your job. It’s not like the good ‘ole days when you could smack the “niggers and wetbacks” around and get away with it.

    And, Oh Well, because you have smacked a few gang members around you think you are a gang expert? Please. Gang investigator for the CDC? I’ve heard some of those pseudo experts speak. You can find better information on wikipedia. They may impress you, but any third rate graduate student can do better. I’m sure you don’t believe them liberal institutions are up to any good. And, even a hill billy who has been a few days in the big city with city folks knows that Mexican’s don’t wear Birkenstocks. You are confusing your liberals. But, then again, I’m sure all colored folks done look the same to you.

    • I like the “Gang Expert” reference you gave to “Oh Well”. The Dos Equis “most interesting man” along with Forrest Gump and all of his adventures give credit to “Oh Well”. He’s been there, done that and have numerous entries on this site to prove it. Stay tuned….you’ll see.

  • Whew…it sounds like somebody is off there medication. Just because you scream, whine, throw tantrums and make the same assertion over and over and over again doesn’t make it so. Assaults on staff by inmates in LACO jails are higher than they have ever been…it’s not an apparition but a fact. Oh…I forget you won’t believe it no matter what. Not part of your narrative.

  • CF,
    Your reading comprehension skills, (Or should I say lack thereof?) surprise me. I thought someone as educated as you would ascertain why I mentioned the “coffee house and your Birkenstock wearing friends” (Meaning that there’s plenty of white like minded FORWARD thinking individuals in the coffee house). I know Mexicans don’t wear Birkestocks, that’s why I said “AND your FELLOW Mechistas”.
    Furthermore, I’m stunned that such a learned and well read scholar holding several advanced degrees like yourself doesn’t know that it’s not “hill billy”, it’s hillbilly. One word there slick.
    Anyhow, while you’re enjoying putting your utter disdain for law enforcement on display, and revelling over being able to talk your shit like a true keyboard vaquero, you’re not impressing anybody. Much like your comment that “any third rate graduate student could do better”, the cops commenting here have seen cell soldiers like you their whole careers. After awhile we become immune to the constant drone of “The cops are the problem, the cops are racists, I pay your salary, fuck the police, yada yada yada. Also, this might come as a surprise to you, but we know that’s what you’re saying. Your attempts at sprucing it up and putting a linguistic veil over it so it will be more palatable, while you try to come off as some mainstream concerned citizen are laughingly obvious.
    Even though you put a little less pressure on the blade it doesn’t disguise the sound of your axe grinding on the wheel.
    Relax. I’m sure there will be another BLM protest somewhere soon, and maybe then you can get rid of that pent up hatred for the cops that’s been building inside you ever since the BLM movement has slowed down, and has been exacerbated by Trump getting elected.
    I know it’s been hard on yousocial justice warriors the last few months. Life is tough my friend. It’s tougher when you’re a crusader.

  • The inmates save up their piss and shit and throw it at the Deputies. Gassing is a pretty word the Department made up to describe this act. Stop using the term gassing and say what it is, inmates saving up their piss and shit and throwing it at the Deputies.

    • If that’s what is happening, then it means inmates are committing assault against jail personnel and not being prosecuted for it.
      Not saying they want to be prosecuted for the assault.
      Maybe what they really want is a beatdown.
      It’s probably difficult to understand for a lot of people, because they simply can’t imagine it for themselves – but there a some people who need(and want) a beatdown from time to time.
      They may want a beatdown because it brings back memories of good times, or may be because they crave the high from their own bodies release of endorphins.
      So it may be the case that completely removing the potential for administering beatdowns has created a more hazardous environment inside the jail.
      That would be from the individuals whose behavior is asking for a beatdown are denied what they need and will continue to escalate their behavior as a way of requesting what we are no longer allowed to give to them.
      Hmmm??

      • The beatdown, re: Gassing…..is not worth losing your job/retirement.
        Payback for idiots (gassers) come in numerous and different ways. Believe me.

    • Dave the word Gassing is the correct term. Here is the Penal Code 243.9 PC Battery by Gassing

      (a) Every person confined in any local detention facility who commits a battery by gassing upon the person of any peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2, or employee of the local detention facility is guilty of aggravated battery and shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years.
      (b) For purposes of this section, “gassing” means intentionally placing or throwing, or causing to be placed or thrown, upon the person of another, any human excrement or other bodily fluids or bodily substances or any mixture containing human excrement or other bodily fluids or bodily substances that results in actual contact with the person’s skin or membranes.
      (c) The person in charge of the local detention facility shall use every available means to immediately investigate all reported or suspected violations of subdivision (a), including, but not limited to, the use of forensically acceptable means of preserving and testing the suspected gassing substance to confirm the presence of human excrement or other bodily fluids or bodily substances.  If there is probable cause to believe that the inmate has violated subdivision (a), the chief medical officer of the local detention facility, or his or her designee, may, when he or she deems it medically necessary to protect the health of an officer or employee who may have been subject to a violation of this section, order the inmate to receive an examination or test for hepatitis or tuberculosis or both hepatitis and tuberculosis on either a voluntary or involuntary basis immediately after the event, and periodically thereafter as determined to be necessary by the medical officer in order to ensure that further hepatitis or tuberculosis transmission does not occur.  These decisions shall be consistent with an occupational exposure as defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  The results of any examination or test shall be provided to the officer or employee who has been subject to a reported or suspected violation of this section.  Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to otherwise supersede the operation of Title 8 (commencing with Section 7500).  Any person performing tests, transmitting test results, or disclosing information pursuant to this section shall be immune from civil liability for any action taken in accordance with this section.
      (d) The person in charge of the local detention facility shall refer all reports for which there is probable cause to believe that the inmate has violated subdivision (a) to the local district attorney for prosecution.
      (e) Nothing in this section shall preclude prosecution under both this section and any other provision of law.

  • Look up the California Penal Code section, 243.9 for those that want to know what gassing means. This was put in place in by the CA state legislature.

    Many of the assaults/gassing are not prosecuted because the inmates are either already facing serious time for another offenses so the DA’s figure what’s the use or the inmate is deemed mentally ill.

    I’m a believer (in some instances)in the old adage “spare the rod spoil the child”. Some folks for whatever reason are unreasonable and no matter how much you try and reason with them will only understand corporeal punishment. I know it’s seems barbaric, but regretfully some people are wired that way whether it be by nature or from nurtured (or lack thereof) behavior.

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