COMPTON, Calif. – During an emotional press conference this week, Compton Mayor Aja Brown and other city officials called for state and federal investigations into the Compton Sheriff’s station, accusing deputies of misconduct, excessive force and discriminatory policing.
What You Need To Know
- Brown claims she was unjustly pulled over while driving with her husband and infant daughter
- "My rights were violated," Brown said
- "She’s trying to resuscitate a former complaint to make it somehow relevant to the issues of today," said Sheriff Villanueva
- Brown said she felt disappointed in Sheriff Villanueva’s recent response to larger allegations of gang activity within his department
“They terrorize the community, and then they cover their tracks. It is unacceptable. We will not take this. I’m calling for Attorney General Javier Becerra to stand up for the Black and brown people of Compton,” Brown said.
Brown recounted a confrontation with deputies from June 2019 in which she claims she was unjustly pulled over while driving with her husband and infant daughter. She said the deputies didn’t recognize her to be the city’s mayor and tried to search her car for drugs.
“I do have full footage of this entire incident. To make a long story short, it is not unlike anything that we've seen before. My rights were violated. I was disrespected by deputies that have no tie, no knowledge, or any connection, or respect for this community,” Brown said.
Sheriff Villanueva said the department thoroughly investigated a complaint Brown filed about the incident back in 2019 and questioned her motives for bringing up the incident publicly this week. He added he is not concerned about any video Brown may have in her possession.
“She’s running for re-election, and I understand that,” Sheriff Villanueva said. “We investigated the evidence thoroughly. We presented the evidence or the facts of the face, and there really wasn’t a whole lot there. She’s trying to resuscitate a former complaint to make it somehow relevant to the issues of today, but it’s really not.”
Sheriff Villanueva said he wants to work with Compton’s elected officials on the common goal of keeping the community safe, but disagreed on who is allegedly terrorizing the community there.
“I would say the only people who have terrorized the Compton community have been members of gangs in Compton, who have murdered, raped, robbed, shot people at will, and it’s a tragedy,” Sheriff Villanueva said.
Brown said she was compelled to share her story about her 2019 encounter with Compton deputies because she felt disappointed in Sheriff Villanueva’s recent response to larger allegations of gang activity within his department.
Villanueva told Spectrum News 1 that the agency is at the starting phase of a very large investigation into allegations of subgroups and cliques within the department, but dismissed the notion of “deputy gangs.”
He said he would take the appropriate administrative action if evidence is uncovered.
“Right now in Compton we’ve relieved two deputies of duty and we’re transferring six deputies,” Sheriff Villanueva said. “We’re holding our employees accountable to a higher standard than ever before. And that should have been done by previous sheriffs but they all kicked the can down the road. Well I’m taking care of business the way it’s supposed to be.”
Brown said publicly she does not feel the LASD is being transparent and accused deputies engaging in cover-ups.
She and her colleagues on Compton City Council are now questioning the City of Compton’s $22 million contract for policing the community. She was unavailable to speak with us in person Friday, but sent the following statement to address the ongoing tensions:
“Tuesday, a press conference was organized to bring light to the ongoing violation of the rights of Compton residents by rouge Compton Sheriff Deputies and to demand an independent investigation into the recent claims that surfaced about the deputy gang allegedly “running Compton station.” Last Friday the LA Times reported, the Sheriff dismissed these claims publicly, stating “There is no gang of any deputies running any station.” The same day, I received a call from Compton Captain La Tonya Clark indicating that she had Sheriff Villanueva’s “full backing” to deal with this issue by removing them from the station. This was a blatant contradiction to what he stated publicly. This blanket denial undermines any investigation and also directly contradicted statements he made last year in reference to the Banditos gang exposed last year, in which he confirmed the deputy gang was “calling the shots” and “dictating decisions of the station”, which is exactly the activity reported in Compton with the Executioners. It’s clear that Sheriff Villanueva will say anything to deflect from the real issue. This is extremely alarming, which compelled me to come forward to validate the accounts of my fellow residents and brave pillars in our community, to request an immediate independent investigation. To date, the Sheriff has refused to comply with subpoena requests from Inspector General Max Huntsman, or the voter approved oversight commission. The City contacted the Sheriff on multiple occasions in hopes of working constructively on reform, as the client in our $22 Million/year contractual relationship. In reference to my family’s ordeal with Compton deputies, we still haven’t received any information on the outcome of the alleged “investigation.” It’s extremely troubling that Sheriff Villanueva would make a false claim about my re-election intentions, without any knowledge of my actual plans or intentions, and is a blatant attempt to supplant a false narrative and invalidate the issues that he must address within his department. This is not personal. We will not be intimidated, we are not fooled, and the residents of Compton demand respect, accountability, and justice period.”