LA Sheriff’s department accused of harassing families of people they’ve killed
A stunning new report claims that Los Angeles sheriff deputies have a long history of harassing the families of people who they have killed while in uniform.
According to a new report released Tuesday from the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), members of the LA sheriff’s Department (LASD) have allegedly made it a habit to terrorize community members by showing up at vigils to heckle attendees, and parking outside of the homes of those who’ve loved ones were fatally wounded by officers. In some cases, there have even been claims that private citizens were followed and pulled over for no reason just to intimidate them.
LASD is no stranger to controversy, and have often faced public backlash for targeting Black and Latino communities. But now the relatives of their victims are speaking out about the retaliation tactics they’ve been subjected to even after burying their family members.
Via The Guardian, the report, which was also co-produced by Black Lives Matter LA and Centro Community Service Organization, alleges:
- LASD deputies regularly drive by or park in front of families’ homes and workplaces, routinely taking photos or recording them.
- Deputies have on several occasions pulled over relatives without probable cause to search their cars and either detained and arrested them in retaliation.
- Officers have shown up to vigils and gatherings attended by the families to laugh and heckle at them while they grieve, at times even going as far as to damage items at memorial sites.
The authors of the report collected several detailed accounts of these abuses of power from the families of 18-year-old Paul Rea, who was killed during a traffic stop in 2019 and 21-year-old Anthony Vargas, who was shot 13 times in 2018.
“Since my son’s death, we have been terrorized. Every day, we’re watching our backs,” explained Rea’s mother, Leah Garcia. “We are scared because we know what their capabilities are.”
Public records show that whenever family members make formal complaints about the ongoing harassment, LASD has frequently concluded after their investigation that “employee conduct appears reasonable.”
Tuesday, LA county supervisor Hilda Solis introduced a motion that unanimously passed, calling for an official investigation into alleged incidents of harassment and for there to be written policies barring this behavior.
Following the findings of Tuesday’s report, the LASD declined to respond to inquiries about the specific claims of the Vargas and Rea families. But the families of both young men say they have suffered from a decline in their mental health, including panic and anxiety attacks as a result of these terrifying encounters with law enforcement.
“It’s like they have nothing to do but harass families,” Charles Twyman, the father of Ryan Twyman who was shot 34 times in 2019 and killed, said on Tuesday. “You never know when they are going to act out. Every day in the news we see somebody is getting pulled over and harassed and shot, and we never know when that is going to be us.”
“They are just purposefully making people angry,” added Tommy Twyman, Ryan’s mother.
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