April 17, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Federal use-of-force trial begins for deputies in ‘visiting’ case

Court gavelThree Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies accused of beating a visitor to the Men’s Central Jail and then conspiring to cover up the incident are scheduled to go on trial in Los Angeles federal court today.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Eric Gonzalez and deputies Sussie Ayala and Fernando Luviano are charged with assaulting Gabriel Carrillo on Feb. 26, 2011, after guards found him carrying a cell phone in the waiting area, a violation of jail regulations.

Carrillo, 27, a Bellflower forklift operator, had come to the jail to visit his brother, who was an inmate at the time.

Prosecutors contend that the deputies falsely wrote in reports that when Carrillo was handcuffed and taken to a booking room, they uncuffed one of his hands for fingerprinting and he tried to elbow one of the deputies, setting off a violent fight.

But Carrillo contends that both hands were shackled to a chair when the assault took place.

In a civil rights lawsuit, Carrillo said he blacked out after he was assaulted and pepper-sprayed. The county paid $1.2 million last year to settle the suit.

As part of a wide-ranging federal probe into use-of-force and inmate abuse allegations at county jails, prosecutors in 2013 brought charges against Gonzalez and deputies Pantamitr Zunggeemoge, Noel Womack, Ayala and Luviano stemming from various incidents.

However, after Zunggeemoge and Womack pleaded guilty, prosecutors revised their case, narrowing it down to include only Carrillo’s allegations.

As part of their plea deals, Zunggeemoge and Womack agreed that, if called on, they will testify against their former colleagues in the current trial.

Gonzalez, Ayala and Luviano pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, deprivation of rights under color of law, falsification of records, and aiding and abetting. They face up to 40 years in federal prison if convicted of all charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Their trial is scheduled to get underway this morning with the start of jury selection.

in Crime, News
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