‘We’re terrorized’: LA sheriffs frequently harass families of people they kill, says report
Los Angeles sheriff’s department has routinely retaliated against victims’ relatives who speak out, NLG and ACLU say in report
Los Angeles sheriff deputies frequently harass the families of people they have killed, including taunting them at vigils, parking outside their homes and following them and pulling them over for no reason, according to a new report from the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The LA sheriff’s department (LASD), which has faced national scrutiny for its corruption scandals and killings of young Black and Latino men
, has routinely retaliated against victims’ relatives who speak out, the groups said in the report released on Tuesday.
The authors collected detailed accounts of alleged harassment from the families of Paul Rea, an 18-year-old killed during a traffic stop in 2019
, and Anthony Vargas, a 21-year-old shot 13 times in 2018
. The report, also produced by Black Lives Matter LA and Centro Community Service Organization, alleges:
- LASD deputies regularly drive by or park in front of the Rea and Vargas families’ homes and workplaces and at times have taken photos
or recorded them for no reason.
- Deputies have repeatedly pulled over relatives, searched their cars and detained and arrested them without probable cause, allegedly
in retaliation for their protests.
- Officers have shown up to vigils and family gatherings, at times mocking and laughing at them or threatening to arrest them, and have
also damaged items at memorial sites.
“Since my son’s death, we have been terrorized. Every day, we’re watching our backs,” said Leah Garcia, Rea’s mother. “We are scared because we know what their capabilities are.”
An LASD spokesperson declined to comment, saying the department was not familiar with the report. In response to family members’ formal complaints of harassment, LASD has frequently concluded that “employee conduct appears reasonable”, records show
LASD, the largest county police agency in the US, has faced increasing backlash
in recent years for alleged misconduct and abuse by organized gangs
of deputies engaged in violence and civil rights violations. The NLG report alleges that stations with officer gangs have been responsible for some of the harassment.
Hilda Solis, an LA county supervisor, also introduced a motion on Tuesday
, which unanimously passed, calling for an investigation into incidents of harassment and for written policies to bar this behavior.
In August 2019, deputies drove by a memorial site for Rea and filmed his 14-year-old sister who was visiting, prompting the family to file a complaint, the report says.
In another incident that year, seven of Rea’s family members, including his grandmother, brought a cross to the memorial site. LASD allegedly showed up with a helicopter above them and numerous patrol cars. A deputy told the family that they were responding to calls that 60 people were gathered, but when Rea’s mother went to an East LA station to inquire about the alleged calls, the station told her that no calls or complaints had been made, the report says.
At a memorial gathering on 30 October 2019, deputies showed up and moved to arrest two of Rea’s friends, directing one of them to put out a blunt he had been smoking, the report recounts. The friend handed the blunt to Jaylene Rea, Paul’s older sister, so he could be handcuffed, and deputies then detained Jaylene Rea, put her in their patrol car and later took her to jail, where she spent the night, later citing her for “obstruction of justice”. She had given a speech that day at a rally, and the family said the arrest was retaliatory.Click the link at the top for the rest of this explosive story.