LA County Board of Supervisors LASD Los Angeles County Sheriff

Supes Vote to Improve Treatment Of Families Who Lose Loved Ones In Deputy-Involved Shootings & Other LASD-Related Deaths

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion to create a trauma-informed system to support families whose loved ones were killed by members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department or who died in custody.

“Improving the way LA County interacts with, and supports, grieving families who have lost a loved one from a fatal use of force or in-custody death is another important aspect of public safety and criminal justice reform,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who introduced the motion with Supe. Sheila Kuehl. “If done right, this type of communication can reduce trauma, support families, and improve community and law enforcement relations. This is no small thing – public safety doesn’t come without public trust.”

The motion will put into motion recommendations from the civilian commission overseeing the LA County Sheriff’s Department, laid out in a recent report.

At the prompting of the Office of the Inspector General, the Civilian Oversight Commission (CoC) formed an ad hoc committee to address the issue. During the course of their work, the committee met with the sheriff’s department, the coroner’s office, and other relevant county agencies, as well as community organizations and, most importantly, dozens of family members who lost loved ones.

The CoC found that law enforcement often leaves families of those who died without adequate information regarding the circumstances surrounding the death of their child, parent, sister, brother or other family member. Then, once informed of a death, families are often treated clumsily by the sheriff’s department, and do not receive sufficient support to address the trauma they experience following the crushing loss of someone they love.

Families reported getting information about the death of a loved one that was confusing, contradictory, and woefully incomplete, according to the report. And the news was frequently not delivered in a “sensitive manner,” according to the report.

In some instances, families said that they were not told by the LASD that their family member was dead at all, but instead they heard the awful news from the media, or through community rumors. Sometimes, families received mixed information regarding where the body of their loved one was located.

“This [motion] is brought to you today on behalf of 22 family members who met with the CoC’s workgroup,” Youth Justice Coalition’s Kim McGill said. “It’s also on behalf of 851 people killed between 2000, and 2017 by law enforcement in LA County … It’s brought to you from family members who found out that their loved ones were dead from either the media or neighbors instead of from the departments themselves. It’s brought to you from family members who searched hospitals for their loved ones and were denied entry to see the body…”

The motion, McGill said, was a historic one.

“We think it’s the first time in the nation’s history, not just in LA’s history, but the nation’s history when a law enforcement agency has taken seriously the concerns of family members and has articulated rights for families in terms of their treatment,” the community organizer said.

The CoC committee developed seven recommendations for the sheriff’s department:

  1. Establish an entity consisting of a multi-disciplinary team capable of providing ongoing support, resources and transparent communication to families of the deceased.
  2. Hold continuous trauma-informed training for all Sheriff’s Department personnel who encounter family members.
  3. Maintain fairness and withhold judgement when the Sheriff’s Department provides information to the media, including the characterization of the subject of the investigation.
  4. Advocate for changes in current state laws regarding access to victim resources.
  5. Establish a program to assist families who experience a Sheriff’s Department-related death of a loved one with funeral costs and other expenses, including trauma and grief counseling.
  6. Develop a pamphlet for family members of deputy involved shootings and in-custody deaths.
  7. Create a website and/or social media page that explains Sheriff’s Department procedures and protocol related to in-custody deaths and fatal deputy-related uses of force.

LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell stressed the sheriff’s department’s support of the commission’s recommendations. “As we strive to improve our communication with families going through the trauma of a loss of a family member, I understand this is one of the most critical points of contact between the department and these families,” McDonnell said.

McDonnell said that the department did not currently have “a specific course” focused on trauma-informed communication. “However, in our patrol school, we do train in crime survivors and victim communication dealing with individuals suffering from mental illness,” the sheriff said.

With regard to the multi-disciplinary family response teams, McDonnell recommended “that the family response team be established by a third party outside the sheriff’s department to avoid any conflict of interest after a critical incident such as a deputy-involved shooting.”

The motion directs the County CEO’s Office to meet with the sheriff, the civilian commission and its committee, the Inspector General’s Office, and other county departments to review the COC report and report back to the supervisors with a plan for implementation within 60 days.

“People in the community need to know that they matter and this is a great opportunity for the Sheriff, the Civilian Oversight Commission and the community to say, ‘Everyone matters,’” said CoC Executive Director Brian Williams told the Board.

“The Board’s action today moves us closer to an empathetic protocol to guide the Sheriff’s Department as it deals with shocked and grieving family members,” Supervisor Kuehl after the vote.



Photo by Dave Franco / Board of Supervisors – Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell provides testimony at the October 9, 2018 Board of Supervisors meeting.

27 Comments

  • Pay for the funeral, really? SMH. California and LA County are gonna bleed themselves dry with all the assistance we provide to people. There is a program for everything, where does all the money come from?

    Just curious will this apply to the gangster that gets killed after killing and/or shooting a deputy and/or civilian???

    • Hey…Socialism is the great equalizer and “playing-field leveler”. A tax here, a tax there a few cents added on to this fee or that fee, it can be done on the backs of workers.

      Dint you know, there is an endless supply of money waiting to be used on everyone a select group of social justice warriors has unilatarily decided are in need of coffling by the welfare state.

      It will only continue to get worse until that watershed, pivotal moment occurs and people realise a course reversal is in order.

    • This is an article in the LA Times about Assembly Bill 2804, which would’ve allowed an apology without admission of guilt for death & injury caused by government entities. The article can be Googled: LA Times, July 2000–Bill would lift legal cloud from apologies.

      • Reminds me of the scene in RoboCop when his brain was scrambled and overloaded by all the directives put into his memory by the team of cop-hating “doo-gooders”. His solution…a high voltage shock and re-boot to the system.

        An 80’s movie with a lot of subtle side commentary relevant and prophetic to todays society.

  • OMG people can now cry on cops shoulders. Let me see if I got this right, we have to apologize because we killed their son who was trying to kill a deputy sheriff. Shouldn’t the suspects family be apologizing to us?

    Almost all deaths from custody are of natural causes which has nothing to do with the sheriff’s Dept.

    Is there going to be a new radio code where we go all over the county telling people we are sorry for their loss even if it isn’t department related.

    I my 32 yrs this has to be near the top of the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

    We are the left coast. The LA County Sheriff’s Dept will be setting the standard for the rest of the country to follow.

    I think I’m gonna be sick.

  • Conspiracy, I agree, we are being taxed to death. A tax here, a tax there; pretty soon we are talking about serious money, and for what. In the City of LA the largest budget item is for the police department. For what? I think their salaries are much too high for the quality of people we get and the benefits much too generous. I would privatize. Same with LA County. The Sheriff is probably the largest budget item, if its not its a close second to hospital and health, even higher than county welfare. In essence, that is what it is, welfare, when, again, you consider, the quality of people we get and the salary and benefits they get. Many of you even admit that we have a serious problem with rogue sheriff officers in some of these stations. I say cut taxes, and shrink government, starting with the police and sheriff department.

    BTW, isn’t it a bit hypocritical to bitch, whine and squeal about the government when you are government employees. Stand for principal and go earn your pay, not feed of the government teat. I can understand Maj. Kong bitching and moaning about the good ‘ole days, rubbing his beer belly while watching Robocop 2, lamenting the good ole days when black knew their place. I understanding he is retired and his better days are behind him, but many of you are still able bodied and can stand for principal and either become self-employed, becoming self-made men, or go work for the private sector.

    • …..in addition, I’m sure the arguements can be made that the bulk of the 18k inmates in the custody of the Sheriff’s Department are responsible for the bulk of the Department’s budget. I’m sure many folks in law enforcement would be more than happy to open the doors and let the mid-understood minorities go free into society. Hey, that’s what your politicians are pretty much trying to do anyway. The folks in law enforcement will survive, re-group and move one to something else if this Socialist Utopia ever comes to fruition. I think folks who take jobs that put their lives and livelyhood at risk could survive being unemployed, dust themselves and move on. It’s called survival skills. No more “fat pension” as you say, since you seem to be so focused, tuned into and reference every time. No more cops to brutalize “blacks and Mexicans” either, another recurring theme in your rambling diatribes.

      Wow..you’re such a see-through typical liberal, racist and don’t even know it. I bet you even have a “Black” and “Mexican” friend too….jeesh.

      No cops, do whatever you want, no repercussions and no judicial system period is what you and your socialist brethren would advocate it would seem.

    • Pretty clear cf hasn’t even seen robocop 2, looks like she has it confused with “ undercover brother” what a knuckle head.

  • @CF well good thing this is America and I can bitch and wine as I please regardless of employment. Secondly, despite your blanket judgement on government and law enforcement there are many more people that work hard and uphold their respective standards. Hence the ability for government to continue despite tour complaints. Welfare and social services are free money. One does not have to work for welfare, wic, section 8 or do anything for that matter. In fact the guidelines and oversight on that is nonexistent. My evidence is when I see a brand new Lexus in front of Mothers Nutrional.

    Lot to be fixed

          • Really?:

            I did.

            Hunter & his wife were Federally indicted for misusing campaign funds. The indictment was in response to a complaint from an organization called “Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.”

            Acronym for that organization is CREW.

            Wikipedia article on CREW says it “almost exclusively pursued investigations and litigation against Republicans and Conservatives.”

            Hunter enlisted in the USMC the day after 911, became an officer, and served two combat tours in Iraq.

            After his discharge from the active Marines he remained in the USMC Reserves & was called to active duty; as a USMC Reservist he served yet another combat tour in Iraq.

            My own active military time was in the Army, but I know the Marines to be straight-arrow honest.

            So I conclude: CREW’s action is another political hit job.

        • More on Duncan Hunter’s spending with campaign funds >$1302.00 for video games, $600.00 fare to fly family rabbit on airplane and a long list of more to suit his lifestyle. Ironically he purchased golf balls supposedly for “Wounded Soldiers” as a cover to fraudulently purchase some “shorts”, thus the 60 count indictment. Amazing!

  • Conspiracy, please, slow down. Too much rambling makes it hard to figure out what you are saying. I feel as if I am reading one of your police reports. First, my friend, get off this high horse that you are putting your life on the line. We have established that are many other professions with higher death/injury rates. Your profession’s is not more so than any other security guard. Second, be honest, my friend, where else can you and Mr. Kong get a similarly paying job with as nice a pension. Be honest. That is why you guys stay where you are at despite how miserable you are and despite the constant whining.

    Code1M, if you do what is in essence a security guard job and they make about $25k a year, anything over that is welfare. Its money you would not get but for your union’s ability to extort it from the same politicians you bitch and whine about. From the same government you complain about. It’s welfare, a subsidy, nothing more. Its no different that the aid to the single mom living in a trailer, or the farm subsidy to some yokel in the country because the price of sugar or soybeans is down. No different, my friend. And, the only Lexus you might have seen outside such a store is the owner’s Lexus. You are drinking the Ronnie Reagan Welfare Queen Kool-Aid. And, you are correct, this is America and you are free to whine and squeal. It is your right and I will stand in the way of any redneck who has designs to take that right away from you, just as the BLM have a right to yell the F— the Pigs; their right and I will respect it despite my love of pork.

    My friend Kong, you are correct, I have not seen RoboCop 2. I am not the cinephile you are who partakes in fine cinema. I thought I heard that it was going to show after the WWE match last week on channel 9, or something like that. Maybe you share the finer moments of the movie.

    • “Rambling, high horse, delusuions of all knowing grandeur”, that describes you to a “T”…..not my friend.

      Oh…reading a police report, hmm… I’m sure your attorney has translated and used pictograms to explain many to you while a defendent in your court proceedings.

    • Well here we are again going back and forth with the knuckle head cf, at least she’s using the cf name instead of posing as other commenters. She always seem to show up when things get a little hot for ol’ Celeste doesn’t she? Just as well, lately the stories have been a little dry, perhaps Celeste is trying to bore us into submission.

  • CF: How does he slow down the rate at which YOU read?

    Sorry little buddy, but nobody on this site, conservative, liberal or moderate, has the ability to fix stupid.

    So unfortunately, you’re out of luck.

  • @CF I hardly call what I do a security job, but good try. If the world was viewed through your eyes, boy would that be scary. Cop = Security Guard. Doctor = Band Aid Writer = Bum. That’s how little you know. I for one day would like to show you and others what a world without Law enforcement would look like, but due to my deep down desire to serve that will nerve happen. Take a look at Honduras there’s about 1000 plus headed this way, I bet they wish they had some security guards to protect them back home.

    Call welfare what you want, I still says it’s BS. Regardless of profession I would rather be taxed less and have people earn their own way rather then bleed out from all the hand outs.

    And oh the Lexus not the owners!

  • “Establish a program to assist families who experience a Sheriff’s Department-related death of a loved one with funeral costs and other expenses, including trauma and grief counseling.”

    So, a suspect fires a weapon at someone and winds up dead after being shot by Deputies. The County will then help pay funeral expenses? LA County residents should be furious. Utter misuse of public funds.

  • Madame Kong, you should be a detective. Nothing gets passed you. If we crossed paths no doubt you would try to beat a confession out of me that Celeste and I are one and the same.

    Code1M, there is a big difference between a doctor and a police officer, a big difference, not the least which is about 12 years, or more, of schooling. The only similarity is that their notes are as difficult to read as your reports. And, the argument of what the world would be like without police is overrated. Don’t flatter yourself; you are not that important. What would it be like without ambulance drivers, doctors, air traffic controllers, garbage collectors, power plant operators…. need I go on. And, of course you want lower taxes. I do, too. The difference is that without taxes you would not have a job, I would. Call it what you will, you are a welfare recipient. Stop bitching about taxes and your union, and thank them for the nice pay check. Without them, instead of asking, Do you know why I pulled you over, you would be saying, welcome to Walmart.

    • Oh how ignorant? I’m pretty sure your average medical doctor does not got to formal school for “12 years”. If your including internships, residency and specialization training your argument still falls flat. Most PhD types actually spend more time in the university than your average practicing doctor so get your facts right.

      I have many friends in law enforcement with BS, MS/MS and PhD’s, so don’t assume and speak about things you clearly know little to nothing about. Some folks go into the field after working what you would call “civilian” jobs in cooperate America as well. The experience base in law enforcement is wide and varied.

      By the way, you seem to know do much, what is your education background?

  • @CF hahahaha. This literally my entertainment. It’s a joy to come on and read your blabber. I’m sure every doctor is legitimate as you make them out to be. I actually did 6 years of school. So your broad brush of law enforcement doesn’t work, see.

    The argument that America would be different without law enforcement is valid. When your husband and wife gets robbed at gunpoint by joe citizens, cause in your utopia there isn’t criminals, who will help. When your home is burglariZed who will write the illegible reports so you can file your insurance claim. When your house is burning and fire can’t get in due to “passerby” and “ look e loo.” Is that how that’s spelled. Who will they call to keep the area clear because they can’t. God forbid any other atrocities happen to you or my family. But I for one would like to be able to have one to help. When transients and “non drug” users start setting up camp on your street, I’m sure you will be out there giving handout, or who will you call the clear them out. I could go on with the list of minor and major things you could not do yourself.

    I will bitch and wine as I please. Because I am not paid enough to be your caretaker, counselor, baby sitter, social worker, and guardian, advice giver, neighborhood friend, security, and so on.

    Thx for the entertainment.

  • Old and Jaded:. Well the suspect’s family will have one up on any officer killed in the line of duty. Unless things have changed….the county does not pay any costs for the funeral of a officer killed in the line of duty. Funeral costs are paid by the Sheriff’s Relief Association.

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