Civil rights advocates, supervisors focus on accusations of harassment of shooting victims’ families

In October 2019, at a rally in front of Los Angeles’ Hall of Justice, Jaylene Rea spoke up for the first time about her brother’s fatal shooting by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy earlier that year.

Later that evening, she was arrested — without probable cause, lawyers said — as she visited the memorial for her brother, 18-year-old Paul Rea. After being brought to the hospital for a few hours, during which her family was unaware of her whereabouts, she was kept overnight at the Sheriff’s station, because there was no staff on hand to take her fingerprints, lawyers said.

The incident was among the more extreme examples of harassment alleged by family members grieving the deaths of loved ones shot by deputies, detailed in a report by an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild Los Angeles, released to the public on Tuesday, May 4. The presentation, at the Hall of Justice, took place just before the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion calling for an “in-depth investigation” into harassment complaints filed with the Sheriff’s Department.

Families and advocates hold a news conference at the Hall of Justice in Los Angeles after Rebecca Brown, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild of LA, released a report on family harassment by the LA County Sheriff deputies on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Families and advocates hold a news conference at the Hall of Justice in Los Angeles after Rebecca Brown, far right, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild of LA, released a report on family harassment by the LA County Sheriff deputies on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Standing with families and advocates, Melina Abdullah, co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, speaks during a news conference at the Hall of Justice in Los Angeles after Rebecca Brown, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild of LA, released a report on family harassment by the LA County Sheriff deputies on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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The motion, authored by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Holly Mitchell, also called for a report back in 60 days on ways to support families and to forbid harassment.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva joined the virtual supervisors’ meeting to say he had seen no evidence of such harassment. Villanueva accused the board of escalating tensions between his department and residents, objecting to language in the motion saying deputies harass families on an almost daily basis.

“That language is reprehensible, it’s irresponsible,” Villanueva said. “This is a false narrative that you’re trying to advance at the expense of the men and women …. of the sheriff’s department.”

The Sheriff said the department conducted an investigation into the issue when it was brought to their attention by the board — and determined that it was unfounded. “When you are making these declaratory statements you have no foundation whatsoever to …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News

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