Civil Rights LA County Jail LASD Supreme Court Trauma

LA Deputy’s Suit Alleges Retaliation for Protesting Inmate Abuse…Fewer Inmates in CA and LA Facilities, Mock School Shootings…and Protecting Access to Justice Behind Bars


In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Ronald Brock alleges department peers and superiors bullied, discriminated against, threatened, and then fired him for protesting inmate abuse in several LA County jails, including Men’s Central Jail and Twin Towers.

A great number of department members are mentioned in Brock’s complaint (a riveting 78 pages), including Sgt. Mark Renfrow, Lt. Mark Guerrero, as well as former Sheriff Lee Baca, ex- Undersheriff Paul Tanaka and Sgt. Kimberly Milroy.

My News LA posted this story from the City News Service. Here are some clips:

He alleges a “veiled threat” came from Lt. Mark Guerrero, who he says told him about how North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un executed his uncle and the latter’s family members for being disloyal.

“Lt. Guerrero told plaintiff that if something happened to a person for reporting misconduct, LASD would not be responsible,” according to the Los Angeles Superior Court complaint filed Wednesday.


The next month, Sgt. Mark Renfrow ordered Brock to fire a stun gun at an inmate who was not aggressive toward any deputy, the suit states.

“The bloodied and battered inmate was then handcuffed and taken away for medical attention,” according to the lawsuit.

Brock alleges he was told by Renfrow to falsify a statement in a report of the incident to state that the inmate was trying to punch a deputy, or else he would be determined to be insubordinate.

Brock “eventually relented to the incredible pressure and wrote in the report that the inmate was punching at (the deputy),” according to his court papers.

Brock says he later received a note from inmates stating they heard deputies saying they wanted to bring false allegations against him in retaliation for his complaints.


Late last month, California’s prison population dropped below the 137.5% of capacity mandated by a panel of federal judges. The milestone was reached more than a year before the judges’ deadline. This important victory is made possible in large part by the passage of Propositions 36 and 47, but there is still potential for the population to swing back up if the state officials stop making significant strides toward easing overcrowding. (Refresher: 36 reformed the Three Strikes Law, and 47 downgraded certain low-level felonies to misdemeanors.) Since Prop 47’s passage in November, 2,035 California inmates have been freed.

California jails have also seen a substantial drop in inmate numbers, mostly thanks to Prop 47. Since November, Los Angeles County Jails have reduced the overall population by 3,200 inmates. San Diego achieved a 900 inmate reduction.

Jessica Eaglin, Counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, has more on the numbers’ significance and why neither state nor LA County are out of the woods, yet. Here’s a clip:

This is the first time that the state’s prison population reached this level since 1994. The decline is a direct result of Proposition 36 and Proposition 47. Since Proposition 47 took effect, 2,035 inmates have been released from prison. 1,975 inmates have been released since Proposition 36 took effect.

California jails, too, have experienced reductions in their jail populations in recent months. Initially, Realignment facilitated shifting inmates from prison to county jails. The recent sentencing reforms – particularly Proposition 47 – changed this landscape. Los Angeles County, with the largest jail system in the country, saw its jail population decline by 17%, or 3,200 inmates, since November 2014. The San Diego County jail population, too, declined by 900 inmates. This is a critical development towards reducing overall incarceration in the state beyond simple compliance with the federal mandate.

California still has a long way to go to successfully get its incarcerated population under control. The state continues to send almost 9,000 prisoners out of state in order to comply with the court’s mandate. California increasingly relies on private and public facilities – including by sending 2,000 prisoners to a private facility in the state. The state will spend $12 billion on incarceration this year while trying to accommodate the court’s federal order. Moreover, CDCR’s numbers represent weekly snapshots. It may be that next week the number spikes above the threshold again. On the jails side, the population may creep back up as inmates previously being released early due to overcrowding are now serving as much as 100 percent of their sentences.


A growing number of law enforcement agencies and schools across the nation are performing “active shooter” drills during school hours to prepare kids for real school shootings. Schools have even carried out these exercises, entirely unannounced to students. In a Florida middle school last November, students believed the cops barreling down their halls with fake guns were real shooters, and sent frantic text messages to their parents.

While most agree that lockdown drills are vital to ensure kids know what to do when there is a human threat on campus, experts say the gunman drills, particularly the unannounced kinds, can traumatize kids. But surprise drill advocates say kids do not take scheduled disaster exercises seriously, and that they do not learn from them.

Kids at a junior high in Bakersfield responded similarly to a surprise active shooter drill in November. And here’s what happened in Harlem.

The LA County Sheriff’s Department has performed similar drills at Topanga Elementary, but only to prepare teachers and staff. Students were not involuntarily involved.

Angela Almeida, who has personally participated in a mock school shooting, explores both sides of this issue in an excellent story for the Atlantic. Here are some clips:

Forget what you’ve learned about fake blood and Airsoft props on-site—in these schools, the word “drill” is a frightening misnomer; neither students nor faculty are given any advanced notice of them.

Last November, a middle school in Florida made headlines after students believed an unannounced drill, in which two gunmen barreled down the school’s hallway with a pistol and AR-15, was real. Turns out the shooters were local police officers yelling, “This is a drill!”—but that didn’t stop many students from texting their parents hysterically, telling them they feared for their lives.


I asked Joseph LeDoux, a highly-regarded neuroscientist at New York University, what might be the most useful strategy for teaching students to act. While it is possible to change how humans instinctually freeze, LeDoux explained, the most effective route for learning may also be the most traumatic. “The introduction of surprise is probably a very useful tactic, because it means the brain has to learn each time students go through the drill,” he said. “When your expectations are violated, then there’s novel information and that’s where you learn. If there’s no violation of expectation, no learning takes place.”

Put simply, if humans know a drill is coming, it’s unlikely they’ll learn much from it. However, while scaring students senseless might make them more equipped to handle an emergency, LeDoux added, the degree to which people are affected by the trauma, in real life or in a simulation, depends upon their preexisting conditions. Everyone reacts differently to trauma.

For individuals struggling to recover from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, for example, reliving memories of high stress and fear can trigger unwelcome flashbacks. As a result, students who fit into this category run the risk of re-experiencing symptoms when confronted with simulation drills firsthand. School psychologists argue that the cost of unearthing terrible memories outweighs the potential benefit of these practices—not to mention the rare chance that someone in the school is carrying a concealed weapon and decides to act defensively. A drill to prepare for tragedy could turn into a tragedy itself.

Bonus: watch what Stephen Colbert has to say about Florida’s surprise drill.


Alliance for Justice has released a new report spotlighting an important case the US Supreme Court will hear next week. Inmates must overcome huge barriers to sue over conditions behind bars. The biggest roadblock is the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). The PRLA was intended to weed out petty lawsuits, but has succeeded in barring inmates from justice who have serious grievances about inhumane treatment behind bars, according to the Alliance for Justice report.

The case challenges the PRLA’s three-strikes provision restricting the number of civil lawsuits an inmate can file before the $400 filing fee—a colossal sum for inmates working for pennies per hour—will no longer be waived. Interpretations of the provision vary, and can mean that inmates can run out of waivers for a number of reasons, when their cases are dismissed, due to technicalities, timing issues, and more.

Here are some clips from the report:

Recent court decisions have expanded congressional restrictions on the right of inmates to access the courts. Today, inmates are losing more cases, winning fewer settlements, and going to trial less often than any time in the past two decades. Yet, civil lawsuits are often the only way to hold prisons accountable for violence, overcrowding, and medical neglect.

And as with all burdens in the criminal justice system, these developments disproportionately burden people of color, particularly African Americans and Hispanics. Fifty-eight percent of all inmates in 2008 were African American or Hispanic, despite these groups only making up 25 percent of the general public. Recent events have shown how difficult it can be for members of these groups to find justice in all walks of life, but nowhere is it as difficult as in a prison.

This report details the ways courts have expanded nearly every element of the so-called “three-strikes” rule of the Prison Litigation Reform Act to keep inmates out of courts, in ways Congress never intended. Later this year, the Supreme Court will decide Coleman-Bey v. Tollefson, and with it, the future of inmate justice. AFJ calls on the Supreme Court to restore the right of all Americans to petition their courts. Access to justice is far too important an American value to take away from one of our country’s most vulnerable populations.


On February 23, 2015, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Coleman-Bey v. Tollefson. Andre Lee Coleman-Bey is an inmate in Michigan who brought a lawsuit against prison officials for interfering with his access to the courts. Coleman-Bey had brought two previous civil cases that were dismissed. He then brought a third case, which was dismissed by the trial court, and he appealed. That appeal is still pending. When Coleman-Bey brought his fourth and most recent suit, the district judge ruled that the three previous cases were strikes, and that he could not have his filing fees waived. The Supreme Court is reviewing the case to decide whether a district court’s dismissal of a lawsuit can count as a strike—and effectively prevent an inmate from filing any more lawsuits—when it is still being appealed.

This case highlights a much greater trend of lower courts expanding the PLRA to hand out strikes based on technical errors, poor timing, and reasonable arguments that end up losing. Even inmates with law degrees, not just the “frequent filers” the PLRA was supposed to target, could now find themselves locked out of our civil justice system.

Congress enacted the PLRA to “reduce the quantity and improve the quality of prisoner suits,” yet the claims of unbounded frivolous prison litigation that sparked its passage do not match reality. Inmates file roughly half as many lawsuits per capita as the general public, but are successful at a similar rate.

Even as pro se litigants bringing cases without lawyers, inmates have been successful in bringing and winning cases in the United States Supreme Court. And litigation has brought reform to prisons that desperately need it. Recent lawsuits have successfully improved inmate medical care, reduced violence and overcrowding, and reformed prison use of solitary confinement.


  • As I stated in a previous posting………More lawsuits are coming. Lawsuits by deputies are a direct result and indicative of lax LASD management.

    If ALADS did their job, it would never get to the lawsuit stage. What does that tell you? The chickens are coming home to roost.

  • Re: The Deputy’s retaliation–it looks like the secret , pointed out in John Grisham’s latest book “Gray Mountain” (which, by the way, has been on the NYT”s top-ten best seller list the past 17 weeks) is out: the only arena left in which The Little Guy can right wrongs inflicted by The Big Guy is the court room..

    Sure can’t go to the F.B.I.

  • #1″If ALADS did their job”. The execs of LASD have no fear of ALADS or any union. ALADS is incapable of stopping the wrongs that happen at that level. And its not the fault of ALADS, the execs know ALADS can’t touch them.

  • @Frank……After acts were committed and if ALADS would have intervened on Brock’s behalf…. thus reminding LASD of repercussions, then chances are that it WOULD NOT have taken the lawsuit path.

    You sound like an ALADS sympathizer. That’s why Dick Shinee gets paid $2.5 million.

  • Well I state how they “FEEL,” because I heard Brock and his facts may not be so factual. Don’t quote me on this, but I heard he may have fabricated stories before, so that in a scenario like this it would be beneficial should he sue.

    And like I said I was just saying, I don’t care either way. Let the chips fall where they may.

  • I wouldn’t get to worked up about this particular lawsuit, regardless of your opinion of law enforcement in general, or the LASD in particular. Suffice it to say that attorneys need to do a better job of screening their clients, I’ll leave it at that.

  • Let me get this straight. Deputy Brock, in his lawsuit, is copping out to tasing an inmate who was no threat to himself or other deputies, is that correct? Then he cops out to falsifying the report to justify the 149, is that correct?
    He says he committed these crimes due to “incredible pressure” from other deputies and supervisors to “go along with the program”, is that correct?
    Now Deputy Brock and his counsel feel he should benefit financially or otherwise from the crimes he committed, because he felt “incredible pressure” to commit these crimes, is that correct?

    Somebody please explain to me why anybody should be supportive of Deputy Brock’s lawsuit in any way, shape, form or fashion.

  • #10, I don’t know Brock or the details if this case. Peer pressure is very real in this job though. What about when a trainee at a busy station is instructed to lie on probable cause in a report…”Searched re consent” “contraband observed in plain sight” “we saw the suspect in possession and tossed”. Peer pressure says you never want to be the trainee that “didn’t see the toss” so you give in and lie as instructed. Are these trainees wrong. Yes, its a crime. But they know they will be labeled a rat and their carrers will be over if they refuse. Supervisors and executives know this still goes on.

  • Brock’s lawsuit and the others are from the past acts of our leadership. If you worked at MCJ you know what he is talking about. There are more retaliation lawsuits coming. Lets support these deputies that stand up and stop the retaliatory culture ingrained in the fiber of LASD. Sad to say, we need all new outside executives…

    The retaliatory culture still exists, they are just doing it smarter.

  • @ 11&12…….Both of you are a spot on. The retaliatory culture still exists and still reigns supreme in LASD.

    You both called it “black and white” To hell with the grey! Nothing will change until we get ALL NEW EXECUTIVES. It may be wishing thinking, however it is the truth.

    I’ll go to bat for Brock anyday before I side with department Brass. For those old heads who refuse to change……GO TO HELL.

  • Deputy Brock was most likely an unfit deputy, and possibly not liked very much, however, what he alleges sounds credible. The culture he described in his lawsuit is consistent with the LASD practices,as previously litigated in court.

  • Peer pressure? Do you think the pressure Brock felt to go along with the program was any more intense than the pressure felt by those involved in Pandora’s Box? Would we give any empathy/sympathy to the deps. involved in that caper if their excuse was: “The pressure was intense to go along with the program, it was coming directly from the Sheriff and the Undersheriff. My career would have been ruined had I failed to go along with the program”.

    Hmmm. Funny how we pick and choose who we will have sympathy for, and why, concerning unethical/illegal behavior.
    Why did Brock wait until after he was fired to bring the lawsuit/allegations/admissions?
    I don’t think Brock should be viewed as some kind of Whistleblower hero.
    If the allegations are proved true, then let the dominoes fall. However, I don’t see him as a sympathetic character. I see him as an angry man who is now desperate and/or angry and so now he is striking back. Logic and the evidence tells us he wouldn’t have ever spoken up had he not been fired.
    Brock isn’t doing anything ethical or courageous. Those adjectives would only apply if Brock had something to lose by doing it. He’s got nothing to lose, it’s the only avenue he has left.

  • Oh well, spot on. I will agree also, however, that retaliation is alive and well within the executive ranks. That is the only way they know how to do their job, the only trick they’ve ever learned. Employment decisions, either good or bad, are not made on merit, that is pure fantasy. It’s all about who knows you and wants to take care of you, either propelling you forward or sending you backwards in your career.

    McDonnell needs to wipe out the entire executive ranks and rebuild with outside help. As the saying goes, you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit.

  • More the reason for the lawsuit.
    Good thing that some bloggers on this website have opinions, because they definitely don’t have the facts. Enough said.

  • #15.. I respectfully disagree with you but you are entitled to your opinion. # 11&12.. you hit the hammer on the nail. The retaliatory culture still exists and still reigns supreme in LASD. However there are some good Execs in the department. McDonnell will just have to weed through all the previous coolaid drinkers.

    In the mean time I’m going to write a book about all the lawsuits being filed. I believe we are up to about 14 in the last couple years. The book is going to be a best seller because I am going to call it: The 50 Shades of Tanaka’s Grey.

  • Surely you can’t be serious about the Pandora Box participants being pressured.
    Those convicted were either in Tanaka’s car or trying to get in it. The 3 deputy generalists MIGHT be an exception (joyride maybe). You are sadly mistaken to compare the two.
    I’m sure the questions that you ponder are most likely in a deposition.
    Yes there are yet more questions along with more incidents of “working in the grey” and only time will tell along with more lawsuits and settlements.

    For those whose opinions appear to be slanted to the left or right can only be parallel with the ultimate question……Were you there?

  • @15 Striking how the word “WHISTLE BLOWER” was the “Little Man” favorite phrase when he ran for Sheriff.

    Don’t be offended, however when I hear that word tossed about, it reminds me of Paul and others in some “good ol’ boy” clique.

    I’m sure that it is only a coincidence.

  • #21
    Seriously? Because I use the term whistleblower I sound like a Tanaka sycophant?
    Please allow me to rephrase.
    I don’t see Brock as some kind of hero because he pointed out wrongdoings, crimes and unethical behavior after the fact, after he was fired, when he had nothing to lose by doing so.
    There’s a word for people who point out wrongdoings, who bring it to the attention of the media, public, etc. Let’s see now, what is that word?

    But I guess nobody should use that word or it’s a “striking” coincidence.
    Jesus. Get real. If you’ve been around here for more than 10 minutes you’d know I’m no Tanaka fan. But by all means, don’t bother to inform yourself before popping with juvenile bullshit. Just fire straight from the lip brother so everybody can hear the shot. It’s just unfortunate that you completely missed the target

  • What part of “Don’t be offended” don’t you get?

    Your chonies are on too tight! Take off the load and relax bro.

    To further prove my point, I ended with “I’m sure it is only a coincidence”………. Sensitive, aren’t we?

    I see that you haven’t missed a beat since coming back from your “self imposed” sabbatical on this blog.

  • Oh, you’re not new to the party, you’ve just changed your call sign. Too many spankings previously after you’ve popped off with one of your sarcastic, provocative or insult laced comments?
    I’m sure it’s only a coincidence. Heck, it’s not even a striking one. It’s pretty common actually. It’s what those who are only looking to be antagonistic and provocative do.
    No worries bro. I’m used to it. It’s what happens when I ask the tough questions. It’s also what happens when I take the time to dismantle comments that are not based on facts, known evidence or accurate information.
    It’s all good. It’s a free country. I’ll keep calling it like I see it and addressing Celeste’s threads and the content of the comments. That’s what I do.
    And you’ll keep doing what you do, because you can’t do anything else. You’ll keep up the juvenile personal insults and sarcasm because you either don’t know how to intelligently debate a topic or you’re pissed off that you can’t break my argument, so there’s nothing left but the personal attack.
    Don’t be offended 1MANHOOP, it’s all part of the game, it’s what we do bro. When the kitchen gets too hot for you and you’re embarrassed just change your call sign again.
    But why I am telling you this? It appears you already know it. After all, there you were with a new call sign just waiting to shoot from the lip in response to my comment.

  • @ Oh Well, please don’t be offended but I also believe your assessment is incorrect. It appears that Brock alleged inmate abuse in the jails and was later fired. This is consistent with our department’s culture, which has a well-known reputation of being very vindictive (i.e. freeway therapy, punitive transfers, bogus I.A. cases, terminations, etc.). It appears he has a valid whistleblower case either way which has nothing to do with trying to be some type of hero.

    If the unions would have stood up to the executives from the start many of these cases would not have reached this point. However, when you got characters such as Floyd running the show what could you expect!!!

  • @26…….You pinned the tail on the JACKASS > ALADS. Floyd was so arrogant,that once in coversation, that some people referred to him as “Jimmy Hoffa” when he was prez of ALADS. What a joke.

    I told him that Hoffa had balls and that ALADS was akin to a swanky social club. He was speecheless. Time For A New Association!

  • Oh Well,
    Yea man you really do need to loosing up your chonies and relax. Let me buy you a drink. I know this nice little place out in Palms Springs. Don’t worry, I’ll drive.

  • I am fully aware of the LASD’s culture of retaliation and corruption under the loon, the drunk and the tyrant. I’m not denying now, nor have I ever, that it exists. We’ve all seen the bogus IA’s and the Freeway Therapy. Many of us have experienced it personally. We also all know that ALADS was about as dysfunctional and corrupt as a union can get.
    Not my point(s). Not my argument.
    My point is Brock’s behavior and the timing of his decision to blow the whistle and bring the lawsuit. My secondary point is him giving the excuse of being under “intense pressure” as the reason for him committing a crime and then falsifying the report to cover it up.
    I speak to the glaringly apparent self serving motive for Brock’s lawsuit, and many choose to argue with me because the LASD has a long history of retaliation and a corrupt union.
    Yeah, I hear you. I know. I agree. I’m not arguing with you about that. Never was. Read what I said. Take it at face value.
    BLOCK ERA, #20, I’m not defending the Pandora’s Box crew. I’m saying they COULD give the same excuse as Brock of being under “intense pressure” to go along with the program.

    #27 Pair of Brass, forgive me if it appears to me that some on this blog want to get Brock’s back. When I point to his crimes, and his apparent self serving motive for bringing the suit, and others immediate response is to argue with me (not even based on the points I brought up), what other conclusion should I come up with?
    I hope you’re right Pair, I hope I am misinterpreting their reasons.

  • @ Oh Well:

    Your ignorance never ceases to amaze us on this blog. It just keeps getting better and better. Why don’t you just go all out and blame Brock also for the entire Pandora’s Box capper. Didn’t Waldie invite you for a drink in Palm Springs. I recommend you go dude. Take worthless Floyd Hoffa with you. I heard on Friday nights it’s all you can drink. Don’t worry, Waldie’s 10 previous DUI’s have all been expunged.

    Your rationale against Brock reminds me of when Tanaka was put in charge of both IAB and ICIB. If fact, you sound like one of Mr. T’s appointees. Classic LASD. Blame the victim. As I recall didn’t I see you while driving by in my hoop last year at the Hat with Leavins, Long, and Craig. You each had a box of the little man’s famous T-shirts for sale.

    The only crime I see is your relentless stupidity.

  • Wow, you might need a drink too Fly. Relax, don’t mind Oh Well. He’s alright for a guy with only a GED certificate. He might even be your boss one day. I’m going to make sure he gets the answers to the next lieutenant’s exam. He just needs to donate about $200 or so for my city council run. Why don’t you come with us to Palms Springs. You can take Executive Director Hoffa’s spot. There is no way on earth I’m taking him.

  • Hey Waldie: It’s a good thing you have that 924 typing for you. He can decipher what you’re attempting to dictate through slurred speech.

  • Oh Well: You’ve become quite popular. What’s your secret? I don’t agree with all of your posts and I box you, but others are chopping you down. Damn.

  • Let’s get back to the original topic. Should OSS keep the jeans and raid jackets. I vote “yes”. Serving warrants in class A is a pain in the ass. Let’s take away SEB’s fatigues while we’re at it!

  • @35 Interesting:

    My speech sir was never slurred. Well…maybe a little. Anyway for that remark its going to cost you $500 for the exam answers. And what is this I’m hearing that McDonnell is demoting Paul’s people. Doesn’t he know they paid good money even if they were unqualified. These people bought their positions fair and square. There has been years invested in building up pay for play and just like that it’s all down the drain. These people might want a refund. I really need that drink now. Where are my keys.

  • Hey Waldie, I have to admit…… are good.

    Are you the “real” Waldie, if not, I would love to pay you to play host at my retirement next month.

    I’ll supply all of the booze and I’ll have a designated driver (a pretty one) to drop you off at home.

  • Well, the little birdie in my ear was right a couple of weeks ago….changes are coming. This was two days before Lt. transfer list went out on JDIC. At least the transfer list included a good Lt. going into Homicide Bureau. For those of you working CRDF, well…..

  • @Interesting:

    My friend you have reconciled our relationship by saying the magic words ….You will supply the Booze!!! However, I will not be needing that designated driver. I drive best with a little taste in me. You can throw in the (pretty one)…lets say as part of my tip. But I will not come if that moron Kevin Hebert is going to be there. I’m being sued because of him. Why would he have that sergeant ask Nguyen to falsify those employment applications for Paul. That idiot also tried to pressure Nguyen to even campaign. Jar Head then goes and leaks those county guys records I had to sign off on to the media. I told Lee not to hire some of them but I got blamed for it anyway. Its incredible what Paul’s people would do to get that little coin of his. 40 years of this mess, eight DUIs, and two hit and runs was enough for me. Welcome to the world of retirement.

  • Chill out Larry. You never told me anything of the kind. And to think I relented and gave you the 15 minutes a month that you asked for to discuss the day to day ops. of my beloved department.
    If I live to be 100…wait, I mean until the day I turn 100…I’ll never understand how it happened. I was so devoted to the LASD. How could this happen? Sorry, we will have to finish this discussion later. I’ve lost my passport and I’m leaving for the Middle East tomorrow. I’ll retrace my steps to find it. First to the mosque, then to the Scientology Temple, then to First AME Church.
    Larry, we’ll continue this conversation about the day to day ops. of the department when I get back next month. I was so devoted to the department. I just don’t understand how it happened.

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