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Criminal Justice

Family Of Cudahy Man With Autism Who Was Shot By Deputy Demands Sheriff Release Video

Isaias Cervantes stands with his right thumb up and left hand petting a horse.
Isaias Cervantes
(Courtesy of the Cervantes family )
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The family of Isaias Cervantes is demanding the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department immediately release the deputy-worn camera footage of the shooting that severely injured the 25-year-old who lives with disabilities.

Cervantes, who has autism and is deaf, was shot by a Sheriff’s deputy inside the family’s Cudahy home on March 31.

Speaking on social media Wednesday, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said his department has completed a “critical incident review.” He said officials had already met with Cervantes’ mother, “and we promised that we’re going to have them have a chance to see the body-worn camera footage first — and once they see it — we’re going to upload it and it will be available on the [Sheriff’s Department] website for everyone to view.”

On Thursday, Cervantes family attorney Austin Dove said the department had not yet contacted the family about viewing the video.

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The Sheriff’s Department said deputies responded to a “family disturbance call” at Cervantes’ Cudahy home. It said he “attacked one of the deputies” and was “gouging at his eyes” while trying to take his gun -- and that’s when a deputy shot Cervantes.

Dove tells a different story. He said one of Cervantes’ sisters called 911 to get help when her brother experienced a “mild mental health occurrence.”

Dove said when the deputies arrived, Cervantes — who according to his sister Yajaira “has the mentality of a six-year-old” — refused to go outside to talk to them.

He said the deputies then entered the home, and each grabbed one of Cervantes’ arms. As they tried to handcuff him, his hearing aid fell out.

Dove claims Cervantes was eventually shot in the back. And both he and the family maintain that Cervantes was unarmed. Cervantes is still in the ICU, and his family fears he’ll be left paralyzed.

Cudahy’s city council passed a resolution this week calling on the Sheriff’s Department to release the body cam footage and the names of the deputies who were at the scene of the shooting, Vice Mayor Elizabeth Alcantar said in an appearance with the family and disability activists Thursday.

“Today we stand with the family, we stand with advocates behind us in ... demanding that there is a full investigation,” Alcantar said. The council resolution also calls on the California Attorney General and U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.

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