ACLU Crime and Punishment Criminal Justice Jail Parole Policy

Was a Visitor to LA County Jail Viciously Beaten by Guards?

This week’s LA Weekly’ cover story about LA County’s Men’s Central Jail
paints a discouragingly familiar picture of brutal behavior on the part of a cadre of sheriff’s deputies—use of force which seems always to be officially portrayed by the sheriff’s department as a justified response to a violent inmate.

However, in this case, it wasn’t an inmate. The guy beat up—Gabriel Carrillo— was not residing inside jail, but was a civilian just visiting his brother, his girlfriend along with him.

However as in cases of inmates who have ended up beat up and inured, without video tapes, neutral witnesses, or someone inside the LASD willing to break ranks, it is inevitably the word of the beat up jailbird against multiple sworn officers of the law.

Even when there was a neutral witness earlier this year in the person of the ACLU’s Esther Lim, LASD spokesman Steve Whitmore suggested that Lim probably didn’t see what she said she saw in a sworn affidavit.

I mean, who are you gonna believe? Her lying eyes? Or the guys with the badges? [See here and here for Lim backstory.]

The LA Weekly cover package by Chris Vogel is full of excellent reporting.

By the way, it is also in many ways, a preview of the series on the LA County Jails bu Matt Fleischer that is coming this summer from WitnessLA in partnership with Spot.Us.

Here’s a long opening clip from Vogel’s terrific story.

But there’s much, much more. Read the whole thing, or you’ll miss out.

And there is far more still coming right here at WLA very, very soon.

Shackled in handcuffs, Gabriel Carrillo was being detained in a small break room near the visitors’ lobby in Men’s Central Jail when, he says, a Sheriff’s deputy knocked him to the floor with an uppercut.

Carrillo, 5 feet 6 and 160 pounds, doubled over in pain. Three deputies began kicking and punching the baby-faced 23-year-old in his head and thigh, tearing his white T-shirt while blood splattered on his blue jeans and Air Jordans.

With each blow, Carrillo felt his body jerk as his head bounced up and down on the cold, county building floor. He briefly lost consciousness, only to wake to the sting of punches to his head and face.

Through eyes purple with bruises and nearly swollen shut, Carrillo could see blood pouring out of his head onto the floor.

“I’m not fucking resisting,” he cried out.

Suddenly, Carrillo felt a blast of chemical spray. He was blinded and gasping for air as more punches pummeled his increasingly numb legs and torso. It was like being caught in a violent ocean wave, Carrillo recalls. Every time he tried to come up for air, another blow drove him back under.

“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Carrillo wheezed.

“Shut the fuck up,” Carrillo claims a deputy said. “If you can talk, you can breathe.”

Finally, Carrillo lay motionless, watching officers wipe his blood off the floor with clean towels, thinking to himself, “How did this happen? All I was trying to do was visit my brother in jail.”

Carrillo arrived at Men’s Central Jail, a dungeonlike fortress near downtown Los Angeles, around noon on Feb. 26 with his girlfriend, Grace Torres, to visit his younger brother, who was locked up on charges of carrying a concealed weapon.

It was a Saturday, and Torres was on call for her job at an employment agency. She says she was afraid of being fired if she missed a call, so she tucked her cellphone into her boot and sneaked it into the visitors’ lobby, despite the signs prohibiting it. Carrillo, a general laborer who helped build a stage for an Academy Awards after-party next to the El Capitan Theater, says he forgot he had a phone in his pocket.

While they waited, Torres moved to scratch her foot and her phone fell onto the floor. Within minutes, she claims, deputies had confiscated the phones, handcuffed Carrillo and taken the two of them into the break room, where a deputy pushed Carrillo into the side of a refrigerator.

Carrillo admits that he mouthed off, telling the officer, “If I weren’t in these handcuffs, it’d be a different situation and I wouldn’t let myself get thrown around like this.” He says he was trying to compensate for being scared.

The deputy, however, called for backup....


Actually there are two inmates at the North Facility. Two. One, two.

Robert Faturechi has the story—and the county’s rationale for this preposterous situation.

Admittedly, the two jails have separate functions. But surely there’s a better system.

In any case, read it!


The California Department of Corrections is using a test that theoretically can screen for psychopathy when determining if a man or woman will ever be eligible for parole. But is it accurate?

NPR’s All Thing Considered reports that even the test’s creator, Robert Hare, is having his doubts.

“I’m very concerned about the inappropriate use of this instrument for purposes that have serious implications for individuals and for society,” Hare says. “It shouldn’t work that way.”

In fact, Hare says, he is so disturbed by some of what he has seen as he has traveled through America training psychologists in use of the PCL-R, that he sometimes has trouble focusing on the way his test could be affecting people’s lives.

“I think about this periodically, and I probably try to suppress it,” Hare says. “I do disassociate myself from it. I mean, if I thought about every potential use or misuse of the instrument, I probably wouldn’t sleep at all.”

Be sure to read or listen to this fascinating and troubling story.


  • Many years ago i spent a week in county jail, the only people i feared where the guards and the only fights i saw where guards beating prisoners.

  • Perspective, people, perspective. I know we all want to do the knee jerk reaction thing and disband all police, let all of the prisoners go, so we can all hold hands in a circle and sing we are the world as we finally reach the utopia that is the post- law America. But not so fast. While these officers went overboard, this “victim” (I say with hesitance) was trying to sneak in contraband. He should have been arrested. That would have been the appropriate action. But sometimes things go haywire. He could have fought with the officers. He had tattoos that signified gang membership. This may sound racist to some people, but Hispanic and African American men are very aggressive when faced with force from authorities. They almost become animal like. I’m sorry to use the term animal, but those in law enforcement know what I’m talking about. Most white men usually just give up and cry while you detain them. African Americans and Hispanics are usually harder to arrest because of their aggressive nature, and therefore there are frequent incidents like this. It’s a real world we’re living in, folks. Trust me, the cops are the good guys. Some of you live sheltered lives up in the hills, and from your vantage point, it’s easy to get duped into that whole militant hip hop mind set toward police, and into thinking that most gang members are just good people looking for a way out. Those of us who’ve worked the county jails and the mean streets south of the 10 freeway know better. The few poor souls in places like South Central who do mind their own business and are law abiding citizens know better as well. And, they appreciate us. That’s all that matters to me. But on occasion, I’ll try to edify the novices for their own good. All the best.

  • “They almost become animal like. I’m sorry to use the term animal, but those in law enforcement know what I’m talking about. Most white men usually just give up and cry while you detain them. African Americans and Hispanics are usually harder to arrest because of their aggressive nature, and therefore there are frequent incidents like this. It’s a real world we’re living in, folks. Trust me, the cops are the good guys.”

    Wow! At least this anonymouse poster is saying how he really feels, although he sounds just like some rookie LASD deputy who has just completed his initiation stretch at the LACJ. Very telling but compelling. I wonder why African Americans and Hispanics are harder to arrest than white folks? Sounds like this bonehead feels it’s a genetic problem.

  • I agree with Dirty Dog, let all of the prisoners go, and with pensions. Now, under the right meteorological conditions, during a solar flare, it is quite possible, for a man’s face to attack a deduty’s fist, even cell bars or a pickle jar. I’ve seen it first hand, many times, on those Hearst Metrotone newsreels. Anything is possible, you just have to keep an open mind.

  • So many ignorant people who think the cops are their to help. I dont trust any cops. I have called them before for help and they searched me… my friend… my friends car and the entire time had us both handcuffed and were talking shit. They found absolutely nothing and then left, didn’t ask me why I called didn’t do anything. I call the sheriffs department to complain and guess what… I never hear back. It is quite obvious what needs to happen not release the prisoners but train and get better more trusting officers. I dont call the cops anymore when i need help it isn’t worth it, i feel like they wont want to do their job and they would just be rude. The cops no days use stereotyping like no other. I cant count how many times I was pulled over and not given a ticket because they made an excuses up to pull me over, did i mention they search my car EVERYTIME? Say the usual shit “Why does it smell like weed”? I dont fucking know. I dont smoke it… but does that stop them from searching? No of course it doesn’t when a power hungry tool wants something he’s is going to force his way too it. They just pull me over because I look 25 and younger and they feel anyone around that age will probably have something.

    I guess everyone has their own opinion of things but I dont know if I will ever trust cops again. It is really sad.

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