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.
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....
MEN’S CENTRAL JAIL IS OVERCROWDED, LA COUNTY’S NORTH FACILITY JAIL, NOT SO MUCH
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!
CAN A TEST DIAGNOSE A PSYCHOPATH?
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.