LOS ANGELES — Sheriff Alex Villanueva promoted a “code of silence” regarding the existence of deputy gangs in his department, according to a new report from Los Angeles County Inspector General Max Huntsman.
What You Need To Know
- The Inspector General accuses Sheriff Alex Villanueva of promoting a "code of silence"
- Young deputies allege they were assaulted by members of a tattooed deputy gang
- The Sheriff called the report "politically driven"
- The District Attorney declined to file charges against any of the officers
The 30-page report reviewed the Sheriff’s investigation into a fight that broke out between deputies at a party at Kennedy Hall in 2018, where young deputies alleged members of a tattooed-deputy clique called the “Banditos” assaulted them.
“Minimal questions were asked about the Banditos and in the interviews during which the witnesses brought up the Banditos by name, very few follow-up questions were asked,” Huntsman wrote.
According to Huntsman, out of 73 identified witnesses, the department allowed 23 to decline to give statements despite Sheriff’s department policy requiring cooperation in criminal investigations.
Huntsman said the investigation was “purposefully perfunctory.”
In a statement Tuesday, Sheriff Alex Villanueva called the report “politically driven.”
Villanueva took office months after the Kennedy Hall altercation, and said he immediately removed the Captain in charge of the station. In August, Villanueva announced 26 deputies involved in the altercation were either suspended or terminated.
“Mr. Huntsman now claims the past is the present, while willfully omitting all of the progress which has been made. His actions are purely politically driven and an attempt to undermine the reputation of the department,” Villanueva said.
Huntsman said the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office could have requested statements from uncooperative witnesses or empanel a grand jury to compel statements but did not.
District Attorney Jackie Lacey declined to charge four deputies involved in the altercation, blaming contradictory statements by witnesses, the presence of alcohol and lack of clear video of the fight.
Lacey’s office declined to comment on the report.