Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva would be willing to testify under oath that LASD is gang-free, as critics claim.
“If there is an official investigation or any criminal investigation demand, I take any oath and testify in any appropriate instance, but not when everything is done for the political benefit of some,” he said.
According to a March 21 letter Inspector General Mark Huntsman sent to Sheriff Villanueva, he was able to identify 41 Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department employees as suspected gang members operating out of local LASD stations.
According to the letter, investigators from Hunstman’s office identified 11 members of “Banditos” and 30 members of “Verdugos” [Executioners”]groups that have apparently existed for decades at the agency.
On his official page, Hunstman describes that 59 legal claims against the LASD have cost 54 million dollars from the early 1990s to 2018. Likewise, the Inspector General does not specify that all those lawsuits predate Villanueva’s term.
Huntsman has demanded that Villanueva turn over body camera footage related to those investigations and instruct officers to cooperate with his office.
‘A tattoo means nothing’
“Everything is a lie, that Huntsman, son of his great ma…, identified 41 people who have a tattoo. That is all the information he has for over a year,” the sheriff said. “That information has been used to manipulate the elections that come in June.”
“They have the names of people who have a tattoo, but that doesn’t mean anything. I have thousands of employees with tattoos and that does not mean they are gang members. A tattoo does not define a person.
Villanueva claims that the fact that some of his subordinates have a tattoo does not authorize him to fire anyone.
“[Un tatuaje] It is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution as a form of expression; having it or being associated with a group does not mean that there is misconduct in people, ”he added.
“Everything they are doing is to smear the reputation of the sheriff’s office. That is the only reason.”
The dated Inspector General document requires Villanueva’s office to produce documents, files, books, videos, audios and any type of communication related to “potential police gangs” related to groups he identifies as Executioners (Executioners) Gladiators (Gladiadores), any group that identifies as “old ink” or “new ink”, Banditos, Regulators, Jump Out Boys, Grim Reapers or Vikings.
In January 2021, a report by Sean K. Kennedy, professor and executive director of the Youth Center for Law and Policy at Loyola Law School, titled “50 Years of Deputy Gangs in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department,” specifies that The Executioners or Executioners tattoo is a skull that wears a Nazi helmet with the letters “CPT” on the front and a rifle surrounded by flames and that these dominate the Compton station.
A deputy from that station, Samuel Aldama, a sheriff who has said “Executioners” tattoo, and his colleague Mizrain Orrego participated in the death of Donta Gurrell Taylor, an African-American, in August 2016. They claimed that Taylor was armed, but he was never found. a weapon in his possession.
At the Compton Sheriff’s Station, a weapon that an officer says he saw on a suspect but is never found when his fellow sheriffs search for it is called a “ghost gun.”
Later, in May 2018, Aldama made a statement in which he said that he harbored “sick” feelings against African-Americans, although he later retracted it. Taylor’s family received $7 million in compensation.
And in a recent sworn statement, Austreberto González, from the same station, confirmed that the “Executioners” are a “violent gang” that dominates Compton and assaults other agents. Supposedly, they do not allow African-Americans and celebrate in bars at parties known as “998 parties” or “998 reports”.
Andrews Saved Case
Austreberto González testified that Miguel Vega and Christian Hernández, who participated in the death of security guard Andrés Guardado in June 2020, were prospects to join the “Executioners” at the time of the shooting.
“All of this was a claim by Austreberto González,” Villanueva clarified. “Her lawsuit against him was rejected twice by the court, to the detriment and even his lawyer was fined because he did not offer any evidence to support that his claim was serious.”
A case dismissed in prejudice court means that the person who filed the complaint cannot sue again.
The day of his death, for unknown reasons, Guardado ran when he saw the agents. Vega said he allegedly had a gun and shot him six times in the back.
In an exclusive interview for La Opinion, Villanueva, 59, who is seeking re-election to the position obtained in November 2018, affirms that his best assets to defend his position against Latino voters is that he got the ICE agency out of prisons and achieved a moratorium on the transfer of undocumented prisoners for deportation.
“I have complied,” he said. “Before, they sold the data of undocumented inmates to the ICE agency and the county supervisors turned a blind eye because they received 122 million dollars.”
Villanueva affirms that, in order to achieve this, “I had to move mountains before the federal government, against the political establishment and the interests of many people in the county, from 2003 to 2018 with [Lee] roof and [Jim] McDonnell]”.
Villanueva maintains that the beneficiaries were the county supervisors “because those millions of dollars went directly to the county general fund.”
Another card the sheriff will play before the June 7 primary is having body cameras installed on at least 3,000 officers.
That was another campaign promise, before historically unseating incumbent Jim McDonnell, a staunch ally of the Board of Supervisors.
“A week after I was elected I started the process; we had to struggle to provide all the sheriffs who are working on patrol with cameras,” she says.
The benefit was, in principle, “transparency, for people who have doubts about something that happened or have allegations of misconduct or criminal matters. We already have a neutral witness who can offer information that was not previously available.”
Among the unfinished business, he says, are “the Board of Supervisors’ shamelessness in defunding the department and freezing our ability to hire more sheriffs; we are already against the clock, we lost some bailiffs and we have not been able to replace them”.
As officers retired or were promoted in 2021, the LASD chief claims to have lost 1,271 positions that were frozen or later voided by the Board of Supervisors. “This happened just when crime was increasing in enormous numbers,” Villanueva points out.
“Board [de Supervisores] it froze our ability to hire new agents,” he says. In fact, LASD has done more work with fewer resources, she says.
After Villanueva assumed command of the department, in 2019-2020 145 million were cut from the budget and in 2020-2021 another 116 million, in addition to freezing 133 million for services and supplies, he explains. This has unleashed an intense political fight between Villanueva, who was elected by the citizens, and the Board of Supervisors, on whom he depends on fiscal matters.
Villanueva claims to have begun an intense fight against corruption, an issue he describes as “intolerable.”
“We have fixed many corruption issues, but there are still elements under the surface that must be fixed – he explains – and one of them is the sabotage that they are doing to the law enforcement agency and that they do it for political benefit,” he concluded in a controversial chief. of bailiffs.
Under a proposal by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Holly Mitchell, the county personnel director was given authority to discipline any county employee who fails to comply with the coronavirus vaccination requirement, an ordinance that passed 4-1 with a vote in against Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
As expected, approximately 74% of the more than 5,000 Covid-19-related workers’ compensation claims filed by county employees through January 29, 2022 have been filed by sheriff’s department employees. . “These data illustrate the vital role of vaccines in limiting the spread of Covid-19, and thus the urgent need to increase vaccination rates across the county’s workforce.”
The authority to discipline, or fire, employees who violate the mandate previously rested with individual department heads, like Villanueva.
“I do not believe that this movement is constitutional,” said Sheriff Villanueva. “Getting vaccinated should be voluntary. I have vaccinated myself and have recommended them for your own benefit,” he said.
He exemplified that the MTA Board of Directors wants to force all its workers to get vaccinated, because they do not want to put passengers at risk.”
“But they do not realize that an unvaccinated drunk or a drug addict who coughs and is sick with Covid can come, vomiting or urinating in front of them in a truck or a train and they do not consider that a danger. So his position is hypocritical and makes no sense,” he charged.
But the truth is that the Board cannot fire a person who does not work for the city.
Villanueva said that if the vaccination mandate makes it mandatory, there are about 4,000 employees at LASD who are of retirement age and more than 2,000 could be laid off.
“I’ve already explained it to the Board of Supervisors and they don’t give a damn,” he says.
As of January of this year, of approximately 18,000 employees in the Sheriff’s Department, at least 874 were in quarantine, of whom 618 were sworn officers, or just 1.5% of the total workforce.
Villanueva also answered our questions about an incident in which an inmate named Enzo Escalante was held down for three minutes when an officer knelt on his head while he was handcuffed.
The altercation occurred on March 10, 2021 at the San Fernando Palace of Justice.
Escalante allegedly punched Deputy Sheriff Douglas Johnson in the face.
Part of a security video was leaked to the press.
Villanueva told La Opinion that the leaking of the video constituted theft of investigative material from an active case, within the department and by some member of the LASD.
The bailiff goes further and assures that the person who delivered that video was Commander Eli Vera, one of his opponents in the June primary election.
“The [Vera] By his own decision, he provided that information to the press, before us,” he said. “They allege that a criminal investigation should have been carried out, but why didn’t they do it? It took me months to be able to see the video, ”she says.
“The [Vera] he had the authority, not to launch an investigation, but he knows about his responsibility because that happened in his division.”
In response to the video leak, Eric Strong, another Villanueva rival for next June’s primary election, said in a statement: “It has never been clearer what kind of leader Alex Villanueva is. The Sheriff sets the tone for the entire Department. Villanueva has set the tone for corruption and abusive behavior.”
“I’m not surprised. He is another desperate candidate,” Sheriff Villanueva commented on the matter.