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Appeals Court Rules: Baca Can Be Sued Over Jail Violence

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In a 2-1 decision on Friday, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was not "immune" to the lawsuit brought by Dion Starr, a former county jail inmate who claims he was stabbed 23 times in a racially motivated attack "abetted by jailhouse deputies," reports LA Nows. The court determined that Starr had "sufficiently argued in his complaint that Baca showed 'deliberate indifference' to dangerous conditions in the jail."

In his complaint regarding a 2006 attack by Latino gang members, Starr said a deputy unlocked the door to his cell as inmates closed in and other deputy allegedly "used racial epithets against Starr after the attack as he lay on his cell floor bleeding and in pain," notes LA Now. Starr also provided detailed incidents of inmate-on-inmate violence that included five killings in a six-month span approximately one year before his attack at the Men's Central Jail.

Starr's case will be sent back to the district court for trial unless it is appealed to a larger panel of the court. Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore, who has described the allegations of complicity by deputies as "heinous" and inaccurate, stated that Baca would "review the ruling and probably ask for a full 11-judge panel to reconsider the case," reports LA Now.