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Two Sheriff's Deputies Acquitted On Charges Related To Jail Beatdown
Two Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputies were acquitted on charges that they used excessive force in the beating of an inmate.On Tuesday, deputies Joey Aguiar and Mariano Ramirez were acquitted of civil rights violations after a jury deadlocked on the verdict. Aguiar and Ramirez were accused of beating down Bret Phillips while he was unconscious, hitting him with a flashlight and spraying him in the face with pepper spray. They were, however, found guilty of writing a false report on the incident in an effort to cover it up, according to City News Service.
The incident took place on February 11, 2009 inside the Men's Central Jail. Prosecutors say the attack was retribution against Phillips for showing them disrespect earlier that day. "What they did was beat a man and they used their badge to do it," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Williams told the jury last week. "And now they're trying to use that badge to get away with it. Do not let them."
Defense attorneys countered that the deputies used force that was "appropriate" and that Phillips was unruly and tried to headbutt Aguiar.
Both Aguiar and Ramirez face up to 20 years for the charge related to the false reports. Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to retry Aguiar and Ramirez on the civil rights violations. They are both on unpaid leave from the sheriff's department and are expected to be fired.
The two deputies are among 21 current and former sheriff's deputies that have been investigated and tried by federal investigators for corruption and civil rights violations, including former undersheriff Paul Tanaka.