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Criminal Justice

LA Supes Order Another Investigation Into Claims That Sheriff’s Deputies ‘Aggressively’ Harass Victims’ Families

“I’m not sure what else we can do other than continue talking, continue speaking up on what we’re going through,” Stephanie Luna, Anthony Vargas’ aunt, said at a press conference outside the Hall of Justice Tuesday.
Stephanie Luna (r), Anthony Vargas’ aunt, spoke at a press conference outside the Hall of Justice Tuesday. Vargas was shot and killed by L.A. County Sheriff's deputies in 2018.
(Robert Garrova
/
LAist)
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The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to launch another investigation into complaints that sheriff’s deputies harass relatives of people who have been killed by law enforcement.

The decision came on the same day the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles released a new report detailing claims of “aggressive and continuous” harassment by deputies of two families.

The report lists allegations from relatives of 21-year-old Anthony Vargas, who was fatally shot by deputies in 2018, and 18-year-old Paul Rea, killed by deputies in 2019.

In the case of the Vargas family, “LASD patrol cars drive slowly past family members’ homes or park outside their homes on an almost daily basis, a phenomenon that only arose after Anthony’s death,” according to the report.

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Vargas’ relatives also said deputies who showed up outside their homes have taunted them.

“I’m not sure what else we can do other than continue talking, continue speaking up on what we’re going through,” Stephanie Luna, Vargas’ aunt, said at a press conference outside the Hall of Justice Tuesday. “We’re not going away.”

The Sheriff’s Department said it couldn’t comment on the Lawyers Guild report because it had not yet reviewed it.

County Inspector General Max Huntsman issued a report last fall calling on Sheriff Alex Villanueva to adopt a policy to prevent harassment of victims' families.

Villanueva said that report didn’t provide evidence of harassment.

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Now the supervisors want Huntsman to look at the issue again, and to come up with a “robust” set of recommendations for preventing harassment in the future.