FBI LA County Jail LASD U.S. Attorney

Day 2: Former LASD Deputy Takes the Stand and Tells of Falsifying Charges at Jail Visiting Center to Cover Brutality

Former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Pantamitr Zunggeemoge was the first prosecution witness on Day 2
of the trial of former LASD sergeant Eric Gonzalez, and deputies Sussie Ayala and Fernando Luviano. Up until they were indicted in December 2013, the three worked in Men’s Central Jail, two of them at the jail’s visitors’ center, the sergeant on the 3000 floor.

Zunggeemoge and another former LASD deputy, Noel Womack, were originally charged on the same indictment as the three who are now on trial. But earlier this year both Womack and Zunggeemoge took deals proffered by the federal prosecutors. Among the various stipulations involved with both men’s deals is that they resign from the sheriff’s department, and also that they testify truthfully in the trial of their former codefendants, if asked to do so.

Womack is expected to take the stand on Thursday.

Right now, Zunggeemoge is making his living as a tutor. Yet from 2008 to 20012, the former deputy worked in the visitors’ center of Men’s Central Jail. As its name suggests, the visiting area is where the husbands, wives, kids, parents, brothers, sisters and friends of MCJ jail inmates come to visit their loved ones who are guests of the county.

A compact, fit-looking man with his head shaved, Zunggeemoge appears to be somewhere in his 20s. When he took the stand, he seemed both calm and determined.

In response to prosecutor Lisabeth Rhodes’ questioning, after explaining how the visitors’ center functions, Zunggeemoge recounted the events of February 26, 2011, which is what this trial is about.

Zunggeemoge said that his boss, then sergeant Eric Gonzalez, was on duty on the day in question. Events that would ultimately form the substance of the charges, began to unfold when Zunggeemoge saw a young woman visitor drop something on the floor in the visitors’ area, and then pick it up. Zunggeemoge didn’t really think anything of the dropping incident. But a little while later, another visitor approached Zunggeemoge and told him that a young woman was using a cell phone in the bathroom.

Cell phones are strictly forbidden anywhere in the county jail system, including in the visitors’ area, so Zunggeemoge followed up on the matter. On a hunch, he questioned the young woman who’d dropped the unidentified object earlier. Sure enough, she admitted she was the one with the contraband phone. Zunggeemoge asked her to accompany him into the deputy’s break room, a small, room that is blocked from the sight from the rest of the visitors. She came along without incident. His colleague and now defendant, Sussie Ayala, a female deputy, was in the break room at the time. So Zunggeemoge asked Ayala to do a pat down on the young woman, who soon admitted that her boyfriend, whose name was Gabriel Carrillo, also had a cell phone.


While Ayala finished with the girlfriend, Zunggeemoge went out to find Carrillo. When he located Carrillo, Zunggeemoge asked if he indeed had a cell phone. Carrillo admitted to having the phone, but reacted with a burst of belligerence. “What’re you going to do?” he asked the deputy, “fucking arrest me?”

At that juncture, Zunggeemoge handcuffed Carrillo’s hands behind his back, and escorted him into the break room too.

According to Zunggeemoge, Carrillo didn’t physically resist him but, due to the man’s earlier agitation and attitude, the deputy wanted to make clear that he had control of the situation, so pushed Carrillo’s face into the small refrigerator that was in the break room, then pushed the lesson a step further.

“I lifted up his arms so he could feel some pain.” Zunggeemoge demonstrated for the jurors with his own hands clasped behind his back, as if handcuffed, then he rotated them skyward, as if shoved up by an invisible hand. Zunggeemoge said that his shoving of Carrillo’s cuffed hands caused the man to exclaim in alarm, “Why are you doing that?!” and the like. Zunggeemoge then searched Carrillo, finding the cell phone and the man’s ID.

At this point, trial defendants Sussie Ayala and Zunggeemoge’s boss, former sergeant Gonzalez, were in the room and Carrillo was much calmer, so the deputy sat him down and went out of the break room to run Carrillo’s ID to see if he had any warrants or the like.

Finding nothing of interest, Zunggeemoge returned to the break room where he saw that defendant number 3, deputy Luviano, was now in the break room with his hands on a standing Carillo, pushing him to the floor.

Not knowing what might have changed in his absence and thinking that Carrillo might be uncuffed, hence Luviano’s actions, Zunggeemoge rushed in to help Luviano do a “take-down.”

But as he pushed Carrillo’s face very hard to the floor, Zunggeemoge saw that, actually, the phone smuggling visitor was still handcuffed.


As things started to get rough, according to Zunggeemoge, someone—either one of the deputies or the sergeant—yelled that they should get Carrillo’s girlfriend out of the break room. As the girlfriend, Esmeralda Torrez, was hustled out, both Zunggeemoge and Luviano reportedly began to punch Carrillo.

“I punched him in his legs and lower back,” said Zunggeemoge. “Deputy Luviano was punching Carrillo in the face.”

At this point, Carrillo was on his stomach and was not, according to Zunggeemoge, in any way resisting, but merely trying to dodge the onslaught by making sort of swimming motions with his legs, as he was being pummeled. “I started punching him in the leg area, and detective Luviano started using OC spray—AKA pepper spray—spraying Carrillo at close range “in the face area.”

In response to being sprayed, Carrillo’s eyes teared, his nose and mouth poured mucus. “He was having trouble breathing.” According to Zunggeemoge, Carillo tried to turn his face from Luviano, “by turning toward me.”

“I punched him two times in the face.”

Soon, Zunggeemoge was having trouble breathing himself due to the OC spray, so he stepped outside the room to catch his breath and the Carillo incident was over. Carillo needed medical care, but no deputies were injured, according to Zunggeemoge, save from cuts on some hands, the result of the punches they had thrown.

“There was a lot of blood in the break room,” said Zunggeemoge. “But it all belonged to Mr. Carrillo.”

Although the incident was over by around 1 pm, there were reports to write—which, Zunggeemoge said, required planning.

Later that day, “we all got together for a discussion” in order to come up with a plan for the reports. According to Zunggeemoge, it was sergeant Gonzalez who came up with the story that the deputies had uncuffed Carrillo in order to fingerprint him, but that suddenly Carrillo began swinging the handcuff chain dangerously as a weapon. Zunggeemoge claimed he’d been hurt by Carrillo, and that a “violent fight” ensued.

Gonzalez also reportedly came up with a scene in which Carillo tried to escape the break room, “manhandling” deputy Ayala, on the way out, and punching deputy Luviano as well.

According to Zunggeemoge, the narrative of the combative, escape-minded Carrillo was entirely fiction. But the matching accounts in the “probable cause declarations” that each deputy turned in and Gonzalez signed off on, plus additional 8-page “incident report” that Zunggeemoge wrote with Gonzalez’ input, protected the deputies from any kind of investigation or charges, while the carefully matched paperwork paved the way for Carrillo to be charged with assaulting law enforcement officers.

As a consequence of what Zunggeemoge described as false charges, Carrillo could have faced four years in prison. (After ten months and a long string of court hearings, the case was dropped by the DA.)


During the last half of the court day on Wednesday, the various defense attorneys did what they could to impeach Zunggeemoge’s testimony on cross-examination, but the former deputy seemed to hold his ground.

There was, however, one very interesting moment in the cross-examination process. It came when one of the defense attorneys asked Zunggeemoge why he fabricated the reports?

Zunggeemoge answered without hesitation. “I didn’t want to go against my partners,” he said. We were all partners and there’s a bond. You don’t go against your partners.”

Well what about going to Sergeant Gonzalez? Couldn’t Zunggeemoge have just told his boss at the time, Sergeant Gonzalez, I’m just not comfortable with this sort of thing.

Zunggeemoge shook his head emphatically, “No. I wouldn’t dare do that. That was Sergeant Gonzales. You don’t go against him.”

As to what the jury thought of Wednesday’s testimony and cross …that remains to be seen.


On Thursday, Carrillo, his girlfriend, and Zunggeemoge’s fellow deal maker, former deputy Neal Womack, are scheduled to take the stand.

So stay tuned.


  • Once again why did this start because of the actions of the suspect. However, if the testimony is true, making up a story for something that is justified can’t figure that one out. Write the altercations as they happen and let the courts sort them out. There was a violations and he was being aggressive towards the deputies. This most likely improved the reporting of force. Now everything is reported and the numbers can prove it. Hold an inmate by the arm and direct him/her into another cell force…….every deputy in custody needs a body cam, because I know this guy wasn’t a boyscout

  • All of this is so wrong on so many levels. They all need to go to prison. It will take a long time for the department to regain a good reputation. These individuals had a herd mentality.

  • That account sounds like Gonzalez. There is an inaccuracy, he was not retired. He began with the Sheriff, in the early part of 2000. He left the Sheriff in 2007 while at century station, and went to wok for the DA’s office as an investigator. It is not clear why he left the DA’s office, but rumor is because of his attitude. You should try to find out why he was asked to leave the DA’s office. He was rehired by the Sheriff in 2008 after he left the DA’s office. Glad to see these two deputies are testifying against him. The federals got the right guy.

  • This guy is an example of what is wrong in the Sheriff’s department. Gonzalez worked as a patrol deputy from 2006 to early in 2007. One year patrol experience including the field training program and left to the DA’s office. He came back in 2008 and was assigned to the TTCF. Shortly after he went back to Century station. In 2009 he was in the Tanaka’s car and took the exam for sergeant, amazingly scoring on band one. This guy was rumored to be dumb, yet he made band one. Like the saying, is not what you know, but who you know. Shortly after he got promoted. This guy had no business being a sergeant, yet, he was. Now the county has to pay millions of dollars because of the way they run their business. Donald Trump for Sheriff.

  • “You don’t go against your partners” unless the feds put a case on you. Great job Zunggeemoge. First you jack up Carrillo and then leave so they have to clean ur mess. Sad thing is force can be applied to a hancuffed prisone without changing the facts.

  • Both Gonzalez and Ayala were both on Paul’s donation list for Gardena. Ayala even contributed to his run for Sheriff. This case is nothing new and still is happening to this day. The only difference is it’s happening outside of the jails now. I just saw a case in which the reports did not match the actually incident. Someone submitted a video from start to finish of the actual event. The copy was submitted to IA by a supervisor who was maligned for it. Guess who got an IA investigation opened on them a short time later? We still have a long way to go in the area of house cleaning. Some of the same problems from the Baca and Tanaka era are still occurring on McDonnell’s watch now.

  • Put your seat belt on and bring your pillow. There are more incidents that will show the foul and inept dealings of ICIB and IAB.

    Funny how the people who had the courage and guts to do anything were ignored or shunned.

    Current deputies might want to get legal representation outside of ALADS. They also have a seat in this myriad of mess that continues to b plague LASD.

  • @Rabbit, interesting insight into Gonzalez, do tell. Tanaka has his fingerprints all over this caper with his Gray Zone bullshit. It is all so disgusting. Tanaka, I hope you fry for what you have done to LASD. And your self serving followers, take a long hard look in the mirror. Come November, I’m going to take V-days to attend his trial.

  • LASD is so corrupt. It’s not gonna change. Just because a new Sheriff is in town doesn’t mean a thing. The hire ups are so dishonest and corrupt.

Leave a Comment