LA County Jail LASD OIR

New OIR Jail Abuse Report Finds Many Excessive Force Allegations “Unresolved”….and Unresolvable

A new report released Monday night by the Office of Independent Review
looks at a pile of allegations of past abuse in the Los Angeles County Jails, and finds that most of the cases cannot be conclusively resolved due to the poor quality (or nonexistence) of timely investigations into the alleged incidents after they actually occured.

Here are the details:

In the fall of 2011, the ACLU filed 76 declarations “alleging wide scale and pervasive abuse of inmates by deputies in the County jails,” explains the October 2013 OIR report. “And while those allegations have helped stimulate positive reform,” it is “critical to thoroughly investigate and fairly analyze each individual allegation.”

This look backward is necessary, the report continues, in order to “hold people accountable for what occurred in prior years,” and “where possible and appropriate, to learn from past mistakes. Constant vigilance of deputies’ use of force in the Department’s custody settings remains vital going forward.”

We agree.

With this in mind, the OIR examined the LASD’s handling of 31 of the ACLU’s 76 allegations.

Unfortunately, however, the OIR folks found that gathering enough salient facts to make a solid judgement regarding these cases proved to be easier said than done.

As a consequence, out of the 31 cases of allegations of abuse the OIR examined, it was forced to label the majority “Unresolved.

Here is a general summary of some of the other dispositions of the original 78 allegations. including the 31 contained in the OIR report.

*ICIB has submitted a total of 65 cases to the District Attorney for filing consideration. In 49 of those, the D.A. has declined to file criminal charges against any of the involved personnel, most often citing a lack of sufficient evidence to prove that a crime occurred. Prosecutors have filed charges of assault under color of authority against one deputy for allegations stemming from an ACLU allegation and have charged two other deputies involved in the same case with making false reports. That case is not among the ones we review here because the criminal case is still pending. The remaining 15 cases are still pending with the D.A.

*Of the 31 cases we discuss in this report, none have led to an administrative finding of unnecessary or excessive force.

*Five of the cases reviewed here led to discipline for deputies for policy violations
related to the use of force.

*Eleven cases discussed in this report resulted in training or policy changes related to a systemic issue brought to light by the allegations.

When we asked the OIR’s Chief Attorney, Michael Gennaco, what he felt was the most significant about his organization’s 145-page account, he pointed to the frustrating lack of resolution.

“It shows how difficult these cases are to prove when they are investigated so many weeks or months or years after they have occurred.”

Gennaco further explained that a great many of the cases profiled in the report were not investigated until the ACLU filed a complaint, which made getting to the bottom all but impossible.

“If you haven’t done a proper investigation upfront, “ he said, “at this point, there is often nothing you can do…”

Even when the cases were investigated at the time, he added, “the protocols for investigation that were in place were often insufficient.” As a consequence, those doing the investigating “did a lousy job.”

There were cases in which inmate witnesses were not interviewed, or were inadequately interviewed.

This, in turn, made it all but impossible for the department—or the OIR—to do a conclusive investigation many months after the fact.

The matter was made even more difficult if LASD supervisors knew about the force accusations, but didn’t cause the matter to be investigated properly. Now, the report notes, it is too late. The year long statute of limitations has run out.

Both Gennaco and the report stress that, since 2011, much has been improved in the way use-of-force complaints are investigated and that, even with the best investigations, some cases simply cannot be adequately resolved because the allegation comes down to a matter of he said, he said-–an inmate’s word against that of deputies.

“All this is why cameras are so important,” he said.

Gennaco also commented on the fact that, while more than 1500 video cameras have been installed in the County’s downtown jails, cameras have yet to be fully installed in various Castaic facilities.

As to why it is taking so long to get cameras in all the county’s jails, Gennaco sighed.

“I have no idea,” he said.

Click here to access the report if you’d like to read the OIR’s accounts of some or all of the 31 cases for yourself.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our hearts go out to the family, friends and colleagues of well-respected veteran LA County juvenile probation officer, Kenneth Hamilton, who was killed early Monday morning by a hit-and-run driver in Boyle Heights. Hamilton, who in his off hours was also a beloved high school baseball coach, was hit when he was returning from his work at the department’s Eastlake Juvenile Hall.

ABC-7 has the story.


  • Gennaco must go! Had OIR (what a BS name!)done the job they were hired to do, would’ve any of this mess happened? Answer: NO! Gennaco and his band of LASD welfare lawyers were hired to ensure that LASD and Baca were doing the job. Instead Gennaco makes silly with Baca and have a bromance that costs the taxpayers millions. Moreso it cost LASD our reputation as the finest Law Enforcement organization in the world. The sacrifice of blood by our brothers and sisters all for the ego of Lee Baca and his ilk! As Gennaco knew about the abuses OIR is just as guilty as the suspects! Unless you would argue that Gennaco didn’t know! Well, if that’s true then Gennaco was (and still is) incompetent! Either way Gennaco and OIR must go! This is why lawyers have NO business doing investigations, especially those making money to hide corruption.

    C: The real irony is the original purpose of OIR. I spoke to the person who originated the idea of OIR and related their sole purpose was to focus on force and deadly force used by Deputies. OIR was to aid our deputies in being more aware of the law and therefore more professional, from the decision to use force, to presenting the case in court. Deputies were to have a expert lawyers knowledge of this area of the law. Well, has it worked? I have met despicable lawyers but Gennaco is at the top! Don’t be fooled; where was OIR during the collapse of LASD and what part did Gennaco play in it?

    All the responsibility for OIR’s failure cannot be put on Tanaka. Why didn’t any of the past Undersheriff’s do their jobs and make sure things were going right? Look at the Kolts reports and match them up with the timeline of corruption that OIR failed to uncover. See a pattern? Myron wasn’t there long enough but Stonich and Waldie sure greased the skid!

  • Let me be the first to say OIR is a complete sham. Great concept, but Mr, G became politically corrupt from day one. OIR has, with malice intent,, provided cover and concealment for Baca and Tanaka for years. Has anyone seen OIR come out and publish investigative reports on Baca’s mismanagement or Tanaka and his henchmen’s ethical and criminal misdeeds? Not a peep, nothing. Who has?????? Witness LA and the Times but not the OIR. Mr. G. has corrupted a wonderful concept and hopefully will be shown the door when a new Sheriff arrives. Shame on you Mr. G. and your staff because you are not nor never have been Independent You are in it for an easy paycheck and always looking for an interview and side job contract for beer money. “Great improvements” at MCJ, wow, you are quick to make that statement just to help Baca, but where were you when Tanaka rolled up Clark, was screaming at Al Gonzalez to “coddle” the deputies, installed Dan Cruz and gave him daily marching orders which will result in many going to Federal prison and where were you when he lied through his teeth in front of the Jail Commission? Nowhere.

  • OIR was designed to cover up all the wrongs of Caca and Fanaka. Yet, they will go after others who are not ‘in the car’.

  • Nice to know our brothers in IAB are trying to put so many cases (49) on deputies that have no merit. Thankfully, The District Attorney’s Office has a little more common sense. “Often citing a lack of sufficient evidence that a crime occurred” Keep trying fellas!

  • BW: I am not looking for a back and forth argument. But, I am truly interested in your post. Why do you think the force cases were not reported or investigated as they should have?

  • J. I totally agree that all uses of force incidents should be fully investigated. I just don’t trust the system, especially where IAB is concerned. I have seen to many good people thrown under the bus for political expediency. I wonder how many of the 49 cases rejected by The DA’s Office should have been filed in the first place.

  • It’s interesting how an “independent” entity like OIR, in place and operating with the full cooperation of the BOS, LASD Execs, ICIB and IAB since 2000, with a multi-million dollar budget, six to eight crack attorneys and plenty of support staff can’t solve all the department’s internal criminal and administrative investigative “deficiencies” as was promised when the BOS heard the pitch and funded the project. Having worked in one of the units Michael and Company oversaw at the time of OIR’s launch, I can tell you, they came in self-righteous and at full-throttle, with Baca’s blessing. I know firsthand how our captain ensured we did whatever they recommended, with little discussion.

    1. Stated reason for OIR’s formation – Chief (then Commander at Leadership/Training Division) Rick Castro completed the final stage of day-to-day development of the OIR concept and operations plan as well as ensuring its implementation as conceived by Baca. Their mission was to monitor the department’s investigations of allegations of employee misconduct and give legal guidance to make sure the allegations were thoroughly and effectively investigated. When anyone personally approached Michael or one of his attorneys to vent about the corrupt promotional process or coveted position selection process, they just shrugged their shoulders and nodded their heads without commenting, caring little about the obvious lack of ethics utilized to reward loyalists, closing their eyes to what was going on so they could further the renewal of their contracts. One of them would occasionally mutter their purview didn’t cover the corruption that was being brought to their attention.

    2. Failed performance of OIR oversight of LASD and Real motive for existence – With their massive current resource of eight bar-card carrying law school graduates sporting new or late model County vehicles from the LASD fleet, plus support staff, lush 2nd floor offices at 4900 Eastern and the full support and assistance of department executives, why is Michael’s report showing so many problems with investigations? What in the hell have they been doing for over a dozen years, at three or more million dollars a year budget? OIR is a private-sector political entity, not a governmental watchdog. They have been doing lucrative side work, allegedly providing “professional, technical and expert services” (just run “OIR Group” on Google [Proposal to Serve as Consent Decree Monitor of the New Orleans Police Department; Portland Police Department Officer-Involved Shooting Review; Review of the San Diego Police Department policies; Systemic Review of the Fullerton Police Department; City of Pasadena Officer-Involved Shooting of Leroy Barnes Jr., to name a handful]). As recently as January of 2013, they were pitching the same “service” to other tax-payer funded municipalities, such as the proposal submitted to the City of Fullerton (“This independent oversight plan is intended to ensure that incidents of force and allegations of misconduct are objectively and thoroughly investigated”). To get an idea of how lucrative these outside jobs are, Portland paid OIR $59,475 to review their police department’s internal investigation of the in-custody death of James P. Chasse Jr., according to the contract for “professional, technical and expert services.” Having perfected the art of lining their pockets from so many other tax-payer funded cash-cow sources, how the hell does Michael and Company have time to give L.A. County a full 40 hours a week? Based on their recent report regarding LASD, it looks more like they’re only putting in 8 or 10 hours a week. The other municipalities would be wise to read the OIR’s LASD reports (which are telling of their dismal performance here in L.A. County) before they waste money their resident’s money.

    3. IAB trying to put so many cases on deputies – Bandwagon’s comment is factually incorrect – a quick check of the MP&P shows IAB cannot initiate an investigation. That authority is vested in the Division Chiefs who take one of their captain’s recommendation/requests to open an administrative investigation based on their discovery/knowledge of an incident THEY believe merits an admin. Give the guys and gals at IAB a break.

    It is interesting, while at the same time outrageous, that both OIR and the BOS knew of LASD corruption since Baca took office, but both stood by short-sighted because of financial and/or political considerations, allowing the venality to become endemic in the organization.

  • @IP. You sir, have provided the readers the best insight into the sham of OIR. With the best intentions, it was never allowed to be independent. As stated, they have done nothing but provide cover and concealment to Baca and Tanaka as well as many other executives. They were compromised from day one because they saw which side of their bread was buttered. And who has been their greatest public supporter? Leroy Baca himself. His personal endorsement landed Mr. G. a gig at OC SD, but that was short lived. OIR is simply a reflection of the unprecedented amount of internal corruption that has been going on inside of LASD, with their FULL awareness and right under their nose.

    i had a very frank conversation with one of the OIR attorney’s when they were in my office discussing an IAB case I was going to adjudicate. The topic turned to Baca, Tanaka and the 4th floor. The attorney told me, and this is a quote, “We all know what is going on and we report the information to Michael. It is his job to tell the Sheriff.” So I asked, “Well, does he? Does Michael tell the Sheriff what Tanaka and others are doing right under his nose?” The shocking answer was, “Yes, he has been told. But Baca doesn’t want to hear it and says nothing.”

    Well there you have it. If I were the new Sheriff, OIR and most of the 4th floor would be gone before I stepped one foot into my new office. This all remains to be seen. I thought I would never utter these words, “Thank God the FBI is in the house.”

  • Interested Party:

    Chill my friend. No where in my comments did I say IAB initiated investigations. What I said was: IAB is not trustworthy, due to their history of having investigations compromised by Executives on this Department. Don’t take my word for it. Former IAB investigators have commented on this blog regarding investigations being unduly influenced by Executives.

  • Chilly here — “Nice to know our brothers in IAB are trying to put so many cases (49) on deputies that have no merit.” I took the sentence to mean that our brothers at IAB are trying to put cases on deputies. Oops!

  • Government and Corporations are all about pay to play! Is it really any wonder that is where our department has gone. The difference is, in government and in corporations, people jump on the bandwagon to get their “piece of the pie,” which “usually” just translates to a lot of frustrated underlings. With our profession it translates to shoddy police work or disrespect from the public, which can get you killed. We have been shot at more in the last 5 years, probably more than the previous 25 that I can remember. Why should the public respect us when our own execs don’t.

    We better fight the corruption within, and get the respect back before we have to bury another partner!

  • I find the same handful of keyboard jockey’s commenting and bantering on a continual basis for their candidates, (Baca, Tanaka or Olmsted). Come out of the shadows and give yourselves an identity. Maybe some credibility will come your way, or not.

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