Beating Children Juvenile Probation

6. New Account Surfaces of Alleged Physical Abuse of a 16-Year-Old by LA County Probation Staff

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon


On Monday, September 12, a supervisor in Los Angeles County Probation’s Central Juvenile Hall
submitted a report that a sixteen-year-old boy housed in the KL unit of the facility claimed he was “attacked by staff” that morning. According to the report, the boy, whom we will call Hamza Rashid,* did not know why staff members attacked him. He described the alleged attack in a two-page hand-written affidavit that the supervisor turned in with her report.

(*We have changed the teenager’s name to protect his privacy.)

According to probation sources, Rashid was injured badly enough that he bled noticeably on to his sweatshirt, a little on his T-shirt, and also on to his underpants. But the garment with the most blood was reportedly his sweatshirt.

As per regulations, the supervisor, whom we’ll call Ms. Vargas,** contacted the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and turned in a Suspected Child Abuse Report (SCAR) in the boy’s behalf, as his allegations required her to do.

The staff members who were allegedly involved, dispute the account and report that the teenager was the violent aggressor.

Yet, on Tuesday, September 13, the day after the alleged attack, Rashid had a scheduled court date, during which he reportedly told his attorney, his mother, and an Inglewood judge about the alleged beating. The judge reportedly found his account credible enough that the court ordered Rashid to be moved on an emergency basis from LA’s Central Juvenile Hall to Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey.

Ahmed’s move was accomplished before the end of day Tuesday.

The two staff members whom Rashid claims were the ones who hurt him have also filled out reports about what they say took place on the morning of September 12. Their reports, which WitnessLA has obtained, tell an entirely different story from that which the boy told his mother and the judge, and wrote in his two-page affidavit.

As mentioned above, according to the two staffers, it was the sixteen-year-old who attacked them not the other way around. In their reports, the staffers describe how they each individually had physical contact with Rashid, but that their actions were no more than what was necessary to get the boy under control.

Perplexingly, the official accounts written by each of the two staffers, don’t quite match with each other, but we’ll get back to that in a minute.

As readers may remember, on June 17, of this year we broke the story of an unresisting teenage boy in LA County Probation’s Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, CA, who was allegedly beaten on video by four probation officers while a supervisor watched. (WitnessLA obtained a copy of the video.) We followed up with an account of another alleged assault on a teenage boy by staff in Central Juvenile Hall, for which we had a written description of the incident by a staff-member witness.

In the case of Hamza Rashid* there is no video depicting what occurred on the morning of September 12, which can act as a referee between the competing accounts. But we have spoken to multiple sources inside and close to the Los Angeles County Department of Probation, who said they believe that an assault of the teenager did occur, and that efforts may have been made to cover-up the incident by painting the boy as the attacker.


TOSSING THE MILK CARTON

This much of the story everyone pretty much agrees upon. On the morning of Monday, September 12, at around 8:12 a.m., there was a problem in the day room of the KL unit of Central Juvenile Hall. Sixteen-year-old Hamza Rashid got into an argument with a female detention service officer, or DSO, whom we’ll call Ms. Greene.**

The argument reportedly had something to do with ice cream.

“This is not uncommon,” said one of our probation sources. “Kids really get upset about deserts if they feel they are not being allowed their fair share. In most cases you can deescalate those situations if you just hear the kid out, and talk to him reasonably.”

But, the argument between Hamza Rashid and Ms. Greene worsened. Exactly why this escalation occurred depends upon who is telling the story. But, for now, let’s just assume that it did.

At some point during the back and forth, the boy allegedly picked up a small but full milk carton and tossed it in DSO Green’s general direction. The carton did not hit DSO Greene. Yet, obviously such milk-throwing behavior is against the rules, and must be immediately interrupted.

According to several department sources, after Rashid threw the milk, another DSO, whom we’ll call Martinez**, quickly moved in and swiftly took to the kid to the ground, to make sure there was no further escalation, and kept him there until he calmed down. Meanwhile, other staff members herded the rest of the kids out of the day room.

Rashid was told to return to his room, and escorted there by someone.

It is here that the stories about what happened on the morning of September 12 diverge dramatically.

According to some probation sources, Ms. Greene, who was reportedly furious at Rashid’s behavior, allegedly did not back off. Instead, sometime after the intervention by Alverez, Greene allegedly kicked or struck the boy, one or multiple times, injuring him.

Rashid’s version, which was reportedly described in two different detailed affidavits, describes Greene and a probation supervisor, whom we’ll call Parker, and who came in later, as each assaulting him inside his room, a small cement-floored structure that features little more than a cement slab bed.


NON-MATCHING REPORTS

According to Ms. Greene’s report, it was Rashid who attacked her.

Greene’s account also begins in the dayroom where she was supervising breakfast when she “observed the minor pouring his food on the floor and laughing to himself.” When Greene asked him why he was pouring his food on the floor, “he continued laughing and said my KP would clean it up.” Green wrote that she “asked the minor to stop pouring his food on the floor and to clean it up.” When he failed to do so, she told him to “take it to his room.” Instead, he “continued laughing,” then “took his container full of filled milk and threw it at me.” After that the boy proceeded to his room.

According to Greene, all this took place without another DSO intervening.

Although sources tell us that, according to protocol, another staff member, or staff members, should have accompanied Hamza Rashid to his room, not Greene, as she was the person who had the conflict with the boy, and at whom he was upset. Furthermore, according to probation sources, except in the most emergent of circumstances, she should not have entered his room alone— for her own safety and that of the kid.

Nevertheless, Greene reported that she followed Rashid to his room, where she told him to take off his shoes and leave them outside the door, as is required of all probationers. Reportedly, he complied. Next, she unlocked his door, and saw three pencils in his room.

About the pencils: Probationers are not supposed to keep pencils in their rooms. They may borrow pencils to write letters, or to write in a journal, or the like. But they are supposed to return them. Sometimes, according to probation sources, the kids keep a pencil—either accidently or deliberately—or a staff member will forget to pick the thing up. This is against the rules, but a minor infraction.

In any case, Greene wrote that she asked Rashid to hand the pencils to her, at which time, according to Greene, the teenager “turned around saying ‘Bitch, shut the fuck up!’” Then Rashid pushed her, Greene wrote. She then reportedly attempted to grab her OC spray and called for back up, but before she could activate the spray, the boy “raised his fist and struck me in the side of the face.”

According to Greene’s report, she then commenced to perform several maneuvers including, one of which “caused the minor to fall to the floor. Minor continued to be combative. “

Finally, according to Greene, it was then that DSO Martinez arrived to intervene, at which time he helped her hold Rashid on the ground. The boy continued to struggle, according to Greene, until Martinez told him to calm down, at which point he indeed calmed down.

And then, based on Greene’s account, the incident was pretty much over. She wrote that either she or someone else (exactly who is not made clear) attempted to take Rashid to see the nurse, but he that he wouldn’t cooperate.

An hour or so later, one of the unit’s supervisors, who came to take Rashid’s account of events, took him to see the nurse again. This time he allowed himself to be examined.


THE ESCAPING PROBATIONER

The next written account is by Mr. Parker** a supervisor on the KL unit, and the other staff member whom Hamza Rashid alleges “attacked” him inside his room.

Mr. Parker’s written account is as follows:

“On 9/12/2016, at approximately 9:23 am this officer (positioned in a SDSO [Supervising Detention Service Officer] office in KL) overheard a loud conversation coming from the L side. This officer then exited the SDSO office and heard DSO [Martinez] (positioned in Room 1) explain to minor [Rashid, Hamza] that he could not leave his room and that he could receive a telephone call at a later time. The officer positioned in the doorway also explained that he could receive a phone call at a later time. Minor [Rashid] then attempted to push past this officer in an attempt to leave his room. This officer instructed the minor to have a seat on his bed and remain calm, however the combative and out of control minor continued to leave his bed and advance toward this writer. The writer extended (A2) a left arm to impede his progress out of the room. The minor stopped and regained his composure and sat on the bed. He was allowed to see the nurse. Nothing further to report.”

There was no mention of Ms. Greene ever being in the room. Nor did she mention SDSO Martinez in her report, although both suggested in their reports they were present when Rashid was escorted to see the nurse.

We were not able to read the report by DSO Martinez, a report that obviously is of importance.

Another DSO wrote a two-line report saying that, on Monday morning, he was positioned on the K side of the unit conducting room clean up. “This officer did witness the incident that occurred on the L side with minor [Rashid], DOB 6/10/200,” he wrote Then nothing else. Maybe the DSO meant to write “did not witness.” Or maybe he has more to say.


THE CASE OF THE VANISHING SWEATSHIRT

And there are other anomalies. Ms. Campos was the supervisor who oversaw the writing of Rashid’s first affidavit, which was originally three pages long, not two. Campos also wrote the original Physical Intervention Report or PIR, all of which was supposed to be passed up the managerial food chain before Ms. Campos went off shift in the afternoon of Sept 12.

But, before Campos submitted her PIR plus the kid’s affidavit to her own boss, she reportedly asked another supervisor, Mr. Stevenson**, to read both the affidavit and the PIR to see if she did everything right. Stevenson read it. And then reportedly he inexplicably declined to give either document back.

Stevenson also somehow reportedly ended up with the kid’s bloody sweatshirt, which multiple staffers claimed to have seen in his office. Now the sweatshirt, which was arguably evidence, appears to have vanished

In addition, Stevenson reportedly visited Rashid, the 16-year-old, to ask him if he wanted to rewrite his affidavit so that it no longer claimed staff attacked him. According to our sources, Rashid said no, that his story was true and he did not want to change it. Furthermore he would be telling his mother what happened, as soon as he could speak to her.

Campos was unable to get her paperwork back, and went off shift without filing her report.

After she left, still another supervisor, whom we will call Ms. Vargas, was told to write up the required report, which included an new affidavit from Hamza Rashid, albeit a much shorter one.

We have not seen either of Hamza Rashid’s affidavits, although sources described the contents of what the teenager wrote, in the most general of terms. In addition, they described Rashid’s lengthy report as being well-written with “correct spelling,” for whatever that’s worth.

Those maintaining that Rashid was the aggressor, reportedly described him as a boy with mental problems who caused the blood on his sweatshirt by repeatedly biting his own lip, an account that probation sources told us was improbable. Sources also reported that if Rashid was lip-chewer known to have “mental issues,” such things would be on record, and he would have been placed in another unit.

Two probationers, each with rooms nearby to that of Hamza Rashid, have been listed witnesses to events that occurred in the teenager’s room. We have no word on whether or not the kids have yet been interviewed by internal affairs and, if so, what they said. Probation sources are concerned that the two minor witnesses may be too fearful of retaliation to talk candidly to investigators.

We spoke to Interim LA County Probation Chief Cal Remington about the alleged new incident. Remington was familiar with the allegations.

“I’m following the internal affairs investigation closely,” Remington told us, “and if excessive and unnecessary force was used the Department will act decisively. We are continuing our efforts to train staff in ways to better diffuse situations without having to resort to any kind of force.”

Meanwhile, during the week of October 3, Hamza Rashid was reportedly released from Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall to return home.


**We have changed the names of all the staff members in this story.

2 Comments

  • Dear Celeste,
    As a veteran member of the Probation Department who has been through many situations such as the one in the article that you have described I want to address and explain some of your issues.

    1: “The judge reportedly found his account credible enough that the court ordered Rashid to be moved on an emergency basis from LA’s Central Juvenile Hall to Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey.”

    Once the allegation had been made, the court would have ordered a transfer regardless of how credible the claim was, the fact that he was moved is not necessarily that his claim was substantiated in any manner.

    2: “Kids really get upset about deserts if they feel they are not being allowed their fair share. In most cases you can deescalate those situations if you just hear the kid out, and talk to him reasonably.”

    I have worked at “Central Juvenile Hall” within the past 5 years and I can assure you that there is no ice cream served with breakfast. I do not know who your source is but this claim in and of itself calls into question the validity of the accusation. “In most cases” is a subjective statement, of course it is possible to reason with a minor in many instances but not all kids are alike as you well know and may not always see reason. You are making the assumption that the Officer made no effort to de-escalate the kid, when in almost all circumstances that is the first thing that they try.

    3: “Sometimes, according to probation sources, the kids keep a pencil—either accidently or deliberately—or a staff member will forget to pick the thing up. This is against the rules, but a minor infraction.”

    The reason why kids are not allowed to keep pencils in their rooms is because they pose a security risk, many minors are coded “Suicidal” and therefore may use a pencil in an attempt to harm themselves while in their rooms. Additionally it would make perfect sense for this Officer to ask the minor to give her the pencils as she would fear that in his agitated state, he may try to utilize one as a weapon with which to stab her, which has happened before.

    4: “There was no mention of Ms. Greene ever being in the room. Nor did she mention SDSO Martinez in her report, although both suggested in their reports they were present when Rashid was escorted to see the nurse.”

    Since nobody has perfect recall about everything that had happened in that brief span of time especially when it comes to the actions of others, typically when writing a report, each Officer is responsible for detailing their own interactions with the minor in the interests of portraying the most accurate depiction of the events.

    I understand that to you these events are newsworthy in the sense that it is a sensational account of abuse committed by sworn peace officers on a minor in custody of the Probation Department but I ask that you please consider the following:

    1. As stated by Chief Remington, Probation has its own special Child Abuse Investigations Unit comprised of higher ranking Officers assigned to headquarters who have no ties or loyalty to those who working in the detention facilities. These Officers are routinely tasked to fully investigate any and all instances of reported child abuse no matter who made the allegation. Any improprieties or dishonesty discovered during this investigation would have resulted in corrective action or discipline up to termination for those involved. This happens on a regular basis and serious events are not just “swept under the rug”. Reporting this information to the public doesn’t do anything to help the investigation, it only serves to politicize and sensationalize it.

    2. Any sworn Officer with the rank of Supervisor or above has access to the reports which you have posted, even those who do not work at “Central Juvenile Hall” and may not have had anything to do with the incident. It is likely that this information, whether it was correct or not was passed down the rumor mill and that person read the reports and came to their own conclusions which they shared with you hoping to achieve an agenda.

    3. The Agenda. Since there is currently a leadership void and power struggle within the upper echelons of Department management going on, it appears that some individuals are sharing reports such as these to try and push their own agenda within their Department. There are many people who stand to benefit from making the Department and its current managers look incompetent so that they can offer to step in and assume the reins of power under the pretense of implementing their own “better” solutions.

    I hope you have a chance to read this and genuinely reflect on what I have stated here to help you understand what is going on. Although I admit I feel that your beliefs on Juvenile Justice are a bit naive, I see that your heart is in the right place. I think you need to consider the fact that you are being manipulated and being passed on rumors, half truths and sensational events in an effort to help certain powerful people within the Department to achieve their own personal agendas.

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