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Criminal Justice

Sheriff Watchdog Wants To Force Villanueva To Provide Access To Records About Alleged Deputy Harassment

A closeup shot of the arm patch of a deputy that reads "Los Angeles County Sheriff"
Officers from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department guard an intersection outside the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles on Feb. 8, 2013. (Christopher Okula/KPCC)
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L.A. County Inspector General Max Huntsman says obstruction by the Sheriff’s Department has prevented him from investigating complaints that deputies have harassed relatives of people killed by law enforcement. He’s asking county counsel to “initiate legal proceedings” to compel the department to provide access to body cam videos and other records.

In a report to the Board of Supervisors, Huntsman said he couldn’t comply with the board’s May 4 request that he build on an earlier investigation because Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s department repeatedly denied him access to databases that contain the footage and other documents.

Huntsman’s office has spoken with several family members of people who were killed by deputies; they allege harassment that includes deputies repeatedly driving by their homes and following them in patrol cars.

The watchdog is also recommending that all complaints of deputy harassment be forwarded to his office for monitoring and possible investigation.

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In May, the National Lawyers Guild of L.A. released its own report detailing claims of “aggressive and continuous” harassment of two families by deputies.

County counsel and the Sheriff’s Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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