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Sheriff Villanueva - Part 4
A drawing of a man's mouth and jaw at the top, with the rest of the drawing taken up with a brown sheriff's uniform, with a dark tie, gold star with a blue circle on it over the man's chest, and a green patch with a star in the middle just below the man's shoulder. Superimposed on the uniform are the words Imperfect Paradise: The Sheriff.
(Miranda Villanueva for LAist)
Episode 4
31:00
Sheriff Villanueva - Part 4
In 2019, LA County Sheriff’s deputies shot and killed Marco Vazquez, Jr. outside his home while he was having a mental health crisis. Later, members of Vazquez’ family say they were followed and harassed by Sheriff’s deputies. They’re not the only ones.

Francisco Aviles Pino  00:00

[ambi house interior] Hello.

Woman  00:01

Hi. [man in background: Hi.]

Francisco Aviles Pino  00:05

Is Leticia here?

Woman  00:05

Yes, she is.

Frank Stoltze  00:06

In late April, one of my producers, Francisco Aviles Pino pulled up outside a small house on a dead-end street in Whittier. It's mostly a bedroom community just east of LA. On the driveway in front of the garage door, there was a small altar. There was a photo of a bald man with a wide smile, flowers in a vase, a rosary, and a plastic cup of beer. Above it hung a banner that said, "Justice for Marco." [a child screams while playing]

Francisco Aviles Pino  00:34

Okay, should I wait here in the living room? [Woman: Yeah, let me go grab her.] Okay, no worries. [Woman: .. I can find out where she wants...]

Frank Stoltze  00:40

Francisco was there to talk to Leticia Vazquez. She's the mother of the man in the photo outside- Marco. The house was busy with children eating and playing and the TV was on.

Leticia Vazquez  00:52

Como estas?

Francisco Aviles Pino  00:53

Bien. Would it, would it be okay to talk here, or can we talk somewhere a little more quiet?

Leticia Vazquez  01:00

You want to do it outside? [duck under]

Frank Stoltze  01:01

They headed into the backyard where Marco's widow, Christina, and some friends were making posters for a march. They all sat down around some tables and chairs. It was starting to cool off. Birds were calling from the telephone wires. [ambi of birds chirping] Initially, it seemed to Francisco like Christina didn't want to talk. But it turned out she was the storyteller.

Francisco Aviles Pino  01:20

What, why do you think it's important to sort of share Marco's story?

Christina Vazquez  01:29

I think it's important to share his story because I feel like Marco and many people that fit Marco are easy to dismiss and easy to lock away, easy to pass judgment on, easy to say he was deserving of it. I think that he fits the perfect description of what it looks like when a system has failed [someone says, "Thank you" in background] you from early on. Um, [music in] and it makes me angry to talk about it.

Frank Stoltze  02:05

When Alex Villanueva ran for office, he said he was going to do three things: reform the Sheriff's Department, rebuild it from the ground up, and restore the community's faith in the department. That last point he said, was the most important, but since he became sheriff there have been some disturbing allegations against his deputies from families like the Vazquez's. Allegations I thought anyone who describes himself as a reformer would take seriously. I was wrong. I'm Frank Stoltze, and you're listening to Imperfect Paradise: The Sheriff. [music out]

Francisco Aviles Pino  02:49

How did you meet Marco?

Christina Vazquez  02:51

We met eighth grade in junior high right here at Los Nietos Middle School. We became boyfriend and girlfriend. It was like a teenage love because it was very intense, and it happened very quickly. And then we ended up getting pregnant with our oldest daughter at 14. We separated when we were 17- 17, 18 after our second daughter was born. And for the most part, I pretty much raised the girls by myself for 15 years.

Frank Stoltze  03:22

Christina says Marco spent time in prison in his 20s.

Christina Vazquez  03:26

And when he was released in 2014, he came back into the picture and was like, hey, like I wasted a lot of years. I want my family back. And maybe this is our chance to rebuild together. I knew I was taking a big chance. I'm like, uhh, me and this guy have history. Like how do I know he's gonna stick around, you know? But I was like, oh well. You only live once.

Frank Stoltze  03:47

So they got married. But Marco had changed in prison. This is his mother, Leticia.

Leticia Vazquez  03:52

It was difficult in a way because we knew that he had his paranoid schizophrenia. So it was getting used to the new man that unfortunately he became due to his illness and-

Francisco Aviles Pino  04:05

I'm sorry for cutting off but, was this something that you think got worse because of him being incarcerated?

Christina Vazquez  04:15

I've wondered that a lot because it's not something I suppose growing up in our homes that was spoken of. We didn't talk about depression. We didn't talk about mental illnesses. It was- "Nothing's wrong with you. You're fine. Suck it up."

Frank Stoltze  04:31

In 2012 while still in prison, Marco had a psychotic break. He became convinced his entire family had died. And nothing could snap him out of it.

Leticia Vazquez  04:41

It never went away. It's just he, he did really good about hiding it. It was always there. He was always paranoid. He was always scared about us being hurt, us being kidnapped, or raped, or killed, etcetera. He never had peace. It was that paranoia- ate at him all the time.

Frank Stoltze  04:59

Doctors diagnosed Marco with paranoid schizophrenia and placed him on medication. It helped. Marco had been a truck driver before going to prison, and he was able to get his license again when he got out in 2014. He leased a truck and started working down at the port hauling cargo containers.

Christina Vazquez  05:18

So we were d- we were doing really good. And it gets me emotional every time I talk to it because I remember I was already pregnant with Mason, and it was probably a few months before things just started going bad. And we're doing laundry on a Sunday. We're putting clothes away, and I was like, you know, babe, [crying] because we both grew up like, parents struggling, trying to give us our best, but we didn't come from much, you know?] We're putting the kids’ clothes away and our clothes away, I go, I can't tell you that I've ever had five pairs of pants to my name, or even more than two pairs of shoes. I said, look at everything we have, you know, like, we have so much like sometimes I'm like, damn, this is surreal, and his eyes are watery too. He's like yeah I know like, it's crazy huh? And I said, who woulda thought two knuckleheads getting knocked up, teen parents, and people thought we were never gonna be nothing. You know, where we came from and just like the stereotypes people put on you like, what kind of future were they gonna have? And I'm like, look at us. You're making over $100,000 a year, ex-parolee, like who would have ever thought this is us? Like we made it.

Frank Stoltze  06:40

In the fall of 2019, Marco's mental illness got worse. Then October 6th. That's after the break. [break]

Frank Stoltze  06:53

Marco's family says that evening he was off his medication, and he was having a delusion that ***changos, or monkeys in Spanish, were inside his house and that they wanted to hurt his family. He was so convinced that his family was in danger that he called 911 himself. Leticia also called 911. She wanted to make sure the sheriff's deputies who were on their way knew that her son was having a psychotic episode. When deputies arrived around eight o'clock, they ordered the entire family out of the house. Marco paced in and out, smoking a cigarette. The family asked that Marco be taken into custody on a psychiatric hold. But a clinician from the county's psychiatric response team, who arrived with the deputies, decided Marco was not posing a threat to himself or anyone else, so they all left. Soon after that, Marco began saying he wanted to kill himself. His oldest daughter called 911 again. Around 10:40 pm, deputies came back- this time without a clinician. There are different versions of what happened next. The Sheriff's Department's official statement on the incident says deputies found Marco standing in the driveway, screaming at his family, and slashing with a large knife at a woman standing nearby. It says a field sergeant and two deputies repeatedly ordered him to drop the knife and that instead, he continued to move towards them. That's when the sergeant and deputies opened fire, hitting Marco 11 times. The Vazquez family disputes almost all of the department's account. They say that deputies arrived with their weapons drawn. They say the reason Marco had a knife was to protect his family from the changos. But they say Marco did not make any aggressive movements towards any of the deputies, did not move towards them, and did not make any motion that would suggest he was trying to hurt them. They say the deputies did not investigate whether Marco was having a mental health crisis, did not de-escalate the situation, and did not give Marco enough time to comply with their instructions. They say within seconds of arriving, deputies shot and killed Marco in front of his family, right there on the driveway where the altar now sits. [pause] The family held a novenario, a nine-day long Catholic viewing ceremony at their house. During that time, Marco's widow Christina says she felt like the Sheriff's Department was watching her.

Christina Vazquez  09:27

We would see patrol cars drive with their lights off in the cul de sac.

Francisco Aviles Pino  09:33

And that was not normal before?

Christina Vazquez  09:35

No, no. Every night. The ghetto bird was flying over the backyard very slowly. Every night.

Frank Stoltze  09:43

Christina and Leticia say they spent the next few months after Marco's death in shock.

Leticia Vazquez  09:49

We didn't say nothing. We didn't protest. We didn't do anything to bring awareness to what had happened to him.

Christina Vazquez  09:55

Honestly, for me, like my marking point where I was like, that's it. I'm done being quiet. It was when George Floyd happened. Then I said- excuse my language- fuck this, like I'm done being quiet.

Frank Stoltze  10:06

It was like they experienced an awakening that they could do more than just file a lawsuit against the Sheriff's Department, which they had done. That lawsuit is winding its way through the court. They could march for Marco just like people marched for George Floyd. So they planned a march to the Pico Rivera Sheriff's Station and advertised it on their Justice for Marco Vazquez Jr. Facebook page. And then, three nights before the March, Christina saw flashlights outside the house. She heard a knock on the door. Two sheriff's deputies we're standing on her doorstep. [music in]

Christina Vazquez  10:40

And so they're like, oh, you know, so we hear you guys are going to be holding a march. And you know, we're just here to remind you, you have your right to protest, and we're here to offer our services if you need any assistance from us. And I'm the whole time, I'm just staring at them like, you're fucking kidding me. Right? I can't say anything, but I'm just staring at them like, why are you here and so late? No one can see you because the street has crappy lighting. Can't see anything. And so they're like, you know, we want to know who's organizing this. I am. Oh okay, do you know about how many people are coming? I don't. Okay, so what streets are you going to be taking? The main streets.

Frank Stoltze  11:23

It's not entirely unusual for police to check in with organizers of a protest, to plan for street closures and such. But to Christina and Leticia, this didn't feel like a helpful kind of visit. It felt like a we've- got-our-eyes-on-you kind of visit.

Christina Vazquez  11:42

Like I'm being very general at this point. Like you're not getting any specifics out of me. You're not getting any information out of me. Like I just wanted them fucking gone. And then from there, they gave us their name and number. If we needed any help, we could call them. They took down my number, my name and my number. Um-

Leticia Vazquez  12:01

Like they don't have it already.

Christina Vazquez  12:03

Yeah- I kind of took it like a, like a friendly reminder. Like, hey guys, we're always watching, and we know what you're up to.

Frank Stoltze  12:10

Christina and her family had just started to speak up about Marco's death. Now she felt like deputies were trying to scare them. Another time, she was in her car when a deputy's SUV began driving behind her. She turned into a CVS and so did the SUV. She parked, and the SUV stopped, idling.

Christina Vazquez  12:33

So at that point, my heart is like beating in my throat because I was like, what the hell are they about to do? I'm not stressing because I'm like, my tags are current. My insurance is current. I'm clean. I'm not stressing, but I'm freaking out because I'm like, I have my baby. And it's just me. So right away, I grabbed my phone. I'm like, let me get one of my kids on FaceTime because God forbid something happened. At least they know what's going on, right?

Frank Stoltze  12:57

The SUV left the parking lot but stopped in the alley. Christina hustled towards the store carrying her baby and her phone, looking over her shoulder.

Christina Vazquez  13:05

Are they reversing? Where are they going? Like, is it just me being paranoid? Because sometimes now, I feel like I'm just crazy. Because any cop I see I'm like, Oh my God, they're following me. Maybe it's not that. I just happen to be at the same place the same time as them. [music out]

Frank Stoltze  13:22

Listening to Christina tell the story, it sounds like she's not even sure what to make of it. Neither am I. I've been covering the police for 30 years in LA, and I know that police harass people, but messing with a family who witnessed deputies killing their loved one? I'd never heard of that before. It sounded incredibly cruel. Christina Vazquez is not alone. During Villanueva's time as Sheriff, other families say they've been harassed too. Families of people killed by LA County Sheriff's deputies.

Stephanie Luna  13:53

[audio clip] Hi, my name is Stephanie Luna. I'm Anthony Daniel Vargas's aunt. Most of you guys are familiar with my nephew. He was shot and killed August 12, 2018. He was shot 13 times, 11 times in his back, two times in his head by two of your officers. You know, the harassment is real. It's not something that you just hear on the news, something you see on TV. It's a real thing.

Frank Stoltze  14:18

It's November of 2019. And I'm at a meeting of the Sheriff's Civilian Oversight Commission. People come here to raise concerns about the department. And today, people have come to testify about being harassed by sheriff's deputies. It's incredibly intense. I see women holding hands comforting [music in] each other, mustering up the courage to speak. Each of them is related to someone who was killed by deputies.

Valerie Vargas  14:42

[audio clip] Hi, I'm Valerie Vargas. I'm Stephanie Luna's sister and Anthony Vargas was my nephew. I got followed from my mom's house in East LA by a black unmarked vehicle with no license plate, tinted windows, no back license plates, onto the 710.

Ryan Twyman's Uncle  14:57

[audio clip] At my nephew's funeral, police came by like four or five cars deep and making faces at the people at the funeral.

Janie Rea's Grandmother  15:05

[audio clip] Within 24 hours of my grandson's killing, the community gathered together. LA County Sheriff appeared in the form of a word I can best describe- a slow moving caravan of vehicles. Unfortunately, the lead car slowed very down, rolled her window down. The deputy projected her face forward with a huge smile. The best manner to describe such behavior is mocking, laughing, grinning. I believe from their behavior that these actions were meant to mock the recent tra- tragedy.

Janie Rea  15:41

[audio clip] I'm the sister of Paul Rea, who was killed by the East LA sheriffs on June 27. Since then, we've been harassed. I was arrested. And in the cop car, they did not want to tell me where I was going. They just said it was none of my business. We'll see when we get there. They were driving through the streets of East LA, hitting all the red lights, hitting stop signs, everything, and in my head, I was already going crazy. I know they killed my brother, and I was just thinking what they were going to do to me next.

Frank Stoltze  16:15

The Sheriff wasn't at that commission meeting when all those families spoke up. But his Assistant Sheriff in charge of patrol, Steven Gross was there, and he responded. [music out]

Steven Gross  16:24

[audio clip] It is not acceptable for any of our personnel to harass anybody, period, on any level. Our sheriff is committed to due process and justice and transparency. And if anyone was engaged in misconduct, we would want to know about it, and we want to hold them accountable.

Frank Stoltze  16:40

During his campaign for sheriff, Alex Villanueva had promised to reform, rebuild, and restore trust in the department. And here's his Assistant Sheriff saying essentially, that's what we're doing. [music in] It would be more than a year before the Sheriff himself addressed the issue of deputy harassment, and his dismissal of the families' concerns was disturbing. That's after a break. [music out] [break]

Frank Stoltze  17:18

After the hearing, the Civilian Oversight Commission asked Max Huntsman, the inspector general, to look into whether deputies were harassing grieving families. Max looked at a 17-month period from February 2018 to November 2019. He found eight instances of possible harassment. [music in] He found that on at least one occasion, an excessive number of deputies showed up to a call for service near a memorial for someone shot by a deputy. On two other occasions, he found deputies arrested family members of shooting victims for insignificant reasons- smoking marijuana in public. And another time, he found deputies arrested two people visiting a memorial, allegedly for violating a "gang loitering" ordinance. Max said the department impeded further investigation. [music out]

Max Huntsman  18:08

Like so many things, the Sheriff's Department has refused to cooperate in our investigations. So I cannot answer the question of what's really going on. The bottom line is I think this is a great example of why body cameras are so important. Because so much of what's described is subtle and difficult to assess. The person can say well, these deputies drove by, and they made faces. It's hard to, you know, you're making a face right now. What is the face mean? You know, does the face mean you're mocking me? Does the face mean you're uncomfortable with the situation? Does the face mean you're- ate something for lunch? It can be hard to say. If you had body camera footage, you might know for sure.

Frank Stoltze  18:43

There wasn't any body camera footage of any of the complaints. LA County Sheriff's deputies did not have cameras at that point. Nor was there any cell phone video. One woman, Stephanie Luna, explained why that might be the case. Here she is at the Civilian Oversight Commission hearing.

Stephanie Luna  18:59

[audio clip] You know, you guys are talking a lot about- it's not you need evidence you need proof. The problem is, is when we're followed in our vehicles, you know, we can't get our phone and push record because that's reason for you guys to pull us over. Why? Because you guys assume it's a weapon. Anything that gets pulled out you guys assume it's a weapon.

Frank Stoltze  19:21

In his report, the Inspector General only counted families who had complained directly to the Sheriff's Department, which people might understandably be reluctant to do. Sheriff Villanueva responded to this report with a letter pointing out there was no hard evidence of harassment. The Sheriff's Department decided that in four of the cases, the deputies' actions were reasonable. In three, it said it could not determine what happened. Another case is still being reviewed by the District Attorney. Then in February of 2022, as families continued to voice their complaints of harassment, Sheriff Villanueva called reporters to a news conference.

Sheriff Villanueva  20:00

[audio clip] ...Keep going. June 22, 21, harassment of individual, loss of family member... [duck under]

Frank Stoltze  20:06

He held his pointer stick and jabbed it at a series of quotes from people he considers his political adversaries- LA County supervisors who had spoken up about families who say they were harassed. He began reading the quotes out loud.

Sheriff Villanueva  20:19

[audio clip] There you go. Holly Mitchell. We have met with too many members of our community who have not only had to deal with the grief of losing family members and have described horrifying incidents of blatant harassment from the very law enforcement organization that took the life of their loved one.

Frank Stoltze  20:32

And then he chimes in with his response.

Sheriff Villanueva  20:34

[audio clip] These horrifying incidents never made it to a cell phone, not a single one. And they talk about this as an ongoing routine every single day. Oh my god, how horrible it is. Shelia Kuehl. We see deputies driving by slowly threatening, parked in front of houses, taunting family members with rude comments and laughing at them, driving by memorial sites where families are honoring their loved ones, damaging items at those memorial sites. All of this without a shred of evidence. Not one single cell phone, not one photograph, not one recording, nothing. Why? Because none of it ever happened. That's the whole point. But it's good to sustain this false narrative. That entire statement, all of these are false. It is part of a branding campaign that the Board of Supervisors engaged in with all their political appointees.

Frank Stoltze  21:21

Villanueva sounded convinced that the supervisors were using the allegations of harassment to conduct a smear campaign against him. It's a classic Villanueva move- he's flipping the script; he's turning accusations of wrongdoing around and saying he is the victim. [music in] There is another way that Villanueva or any sheriff could respond to this. In Max Huntsman's report, he encouraged Villanueva to take the harassment claims seriously, and put in place policies to prevent any harassment in the future. That didn't happen.

Max Huntsman  21:59

What I know for a fact is that the department has not put in place protections to stop it, to make sure that they can say no, no, we know that's not happening. And they aggressively fought back against us when we made the suggestion in the first place.

Frank Stoltze  22:13

And it's not just the Inspector General saying that.

Robert Olmstead  22:16

My opinion if I was Sheriff, and I had this allegation coming from the families that these deputies who were involved in the shooting are now harassing them or doing something, well then, we need to figure out another way to get this resolved.

Frank Stoltze  22:30

That's Bob Olmstead. He's the man who worked for Villanueva as one of his top people and was a whistleblower in the jail violence scandal.

Robert Olmstead  22:37

Take these deputies- reassign 'em. It's no big deal and make it a temporary reassignment til the investigation and everything's been adjudicated and has gone through the court system, whatever the case, put them in another facility where they can work patrol or whatever they're doing. You're gonna have to deal with the unions to get all this stuff taken care of. Uh-

Frank Stoltze  22:53

And you don't see him doing any of this.

Robert Olmstead  22:55

No, no. So address it. [music out]

Andrés Kwon  23:03

This is pure retaliation and trying to suppress speaking out. Cause all these families have been speaking out and including have sued the Sheriff's Department.

Frank Stoltze  23:15

Andrés Kwon is a lawyer for the ACLU of Southern California. I talked to him in May. The ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild put out their own report on deputy harassment that focused on two of the families who spoke up at the Civilian Oversight Commission. Andrés says he personally witnessed harassment. Remember the woman who said she was arrested at her brother's memorial? Andrés spent the night waiting for her at the jail.

Frank Stoltze  23:44

What role do you think the Sheriff has played in the harassment of families, or how he's reacted to reports of harassment of families?

Andrés Kwon  23:51

He's led by example, by singling out, name calling, and targeting specific families. And so deputies see that, right. They see their boss, the Sheriff, going on the attack and targeting specific families. What are they going to think?

Frank Stoltze  24:11

It's almost as if he views them as political opponents. I don't know if you've had that thought.

Andrés Kwon  24:16

That's right. It's an "us versus them" mentality. Right, Frank?

Frank Stoltze  24:20

Andrés told me he viewed deputy harassment of families the same way he viewed deputy gangs- as a symptom.

Andrés Kwon  24:26

A symptom of a deeply rooted culture within the department that tolerates brutality, violence, secrecy. Villanueva is also a product of that culture.

Frank Stoltze  24:41

Although the Sheriff has had many chances to address these accusations publicly, when I sat down with him in July, I wanted to get into the specifics. He told me I had it all wrong. It was actually these families who were harassing his deputies.

Sheriff Villanueva  24:57

I mean, driving slowly by a house. That's not retaliation. They work in the neighborhood. They will drive by slowly every single house in the neighborhood. They waved at me. Well, they didn't flip you off. I think that's an improvement if they're waving. And so we keep hearing these reports, but they're coming from a very tiny group of people that are activists that have an agenda. Some of them are paid. And uh, [FS: Paid?] Yes, paid activists. [FS: By who?] Uh, well, that's what, something we're still trying to figure out. And-

Frank Stoltze  25:28

I, I don't understand. I mean, they have jobs or- [SV: Well-] When you say paid, I, I don't understand.

Sheriff Villanueva  25:33

Well, they don't seem to have jobs because some of these people seem to be always available during the- unless they work nighttime jobs or grave shift.

Frank Stoltze  25:39

But who would be paying them? That's my question.

Sheriff Villanueva  25:41

Oh, well, between the ACLU, between uh, Smart Justice California, there's a host of activist groups that are funded by uh, what they call dark money. And it's falling into the hands of, of some of these people. And-

Frank Stoltze  25:54

When you say dark money, what do you mean?

Sheriff Villanueva  25:56

Money that comes uh, you know, 501(c) 4s, for example. And someone like a billionaire who, a bored billionaire will dump a million dollars of this and that money, then it gets distributed all these activist groups and they get paid 100 bucks to go scream at the local police.

Leticia Vazquez  26:12

Well, I'm gonna take a minute to think about this one because I'm really upset about this one. [FAP: That's all right.]

Frank Stoltze  26:20

After I talked to the Sheriff, my producer, Francisco, called Marco Vazquez's mother, Leticia. Francisco read Villanueva's words to her so she could respond to his accusations.

Leticia Vazquez  26:32

How dare him. How dare him accuse us of that? Nothing will ever bring our loved ones back. No amount- you think we're gonna sell ourselves cheap? For 100 bucks? When there's no amount in the world that's going to be sufficient to bring our loved one back? I would give anything to not be in this situation, to never have witnessed my son being murdered in front of my eyes. So you can take those 100 bucks and put them where the sun don't shine, honey. None of that is gonna bring back my son, and you're never going to see me ever happy. I'm never going to be happy. They took my sunshine away the day they murdered him. I'm done. [music in]

Frank Stoltze  27:29

After losing a family member in a deputy shooting and then feeling harassed by the same law enforcement agency that did it, and then hearing the head of that agency accuse them of harassment, Leticia and Christina Vazquez are done with Alex Villanueva. Actually, they're done with the Sheriff's Department, period. Here's Christina.

Christina Vazquez  27:51

I don't have no faith in a damn thing, like not the system, not a man up there promising he's gonna be different than the other one. At the end of the day, they're all the same. And like we say, a cop is a cop is a cop, and they all fucking look out for each other at the end of the fucking day. They're not looking out for us. And so I wish I could give you guys a hopeful message. And yes, you know, we see a br- I don't see a bright future. I don't see nothing changing.

Frank Stoltze  28:20

Something is changing. Villanueva is up for re-election. But this time, he's catering to a very different group of voters.

Sheriff Villanueva  28:28

They want a woke sheriff funded by George Soros. Imagine what that would look like with our woke DA. Spread the word. Spread the word.

Frank Stoltze  28:41

That's on the last and final episode of Imperfect Paradise: The Sheriff. [music out]

Frank Stoltze  28:57

[credits music in] Imperfect Paradise is a production of LAist Studios. This episode was written and reported by a bunch of us and hosted by me, Frank Stoltze. Our senior producer is Emily Guerin. Marina Peña is our producer, and Francisco Aviles Pino is our associate producer. Editing by Meg Cramer and Paul Glickman. Fact checking by Caitlin Antonios. Sound design and scoring by Emma Alabaster. Mixing by E. Scott Kelly. Original music by J. Valle. Bruno Lopez-Vega is our intern. Antonia Cereijido and Leo G are the executive producers for LAist Studios. Our website LAist.com is designed by Andy Cheatwood and the digital and marketing teams at LAist Studios. The marketing team of LAist Studios created our branding. Thanks to the team at KPCC and LAist Studios, including Megan Garvey, Tony Marcano, Taylor Coffman, Sabir Brara, Kristen Hayford, Kristen Muller, Andy Orozco, Michael Cosentino, Donald Paz, and thanks to our VP, Shana Naomi Krochmal. Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live. This podcast was made possible with support from the Committee for Greater LA in partnership with the Weingart Foundation. This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. [music out]