Eighteen people are facing charges in a probe of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The charges and arrests stem from alleged misconduct at the Men’s Central Jail and the Twin Towers Correctional Facility. The charges include excessive force, corruption, and civil rights violations.
Today’s arrests include Lieutenant Stephen Leavins, Sergeant Scott Craig, Sergeant Maricella Long, Sergeant Gregory Thompson, Deputy Mickey Manzo, Deputy Gerald Smith, Bryan Brunsting, Jason Branum, Richard White Piquette, Johnny Khounthavong, Pantamitr Zunggeemoge, and Noel Womack.
Six additional former and current jail employees are expected to be charged. As reported by ABC News, those arrested today were indicted by a grand jury. Included in the charges are allegations that the officials held an FBI informant against his will.
Anthony Brown, who was incarcerated on charges of armed robbery, was working with the FBI. At some point during the investigation, Brown vanished. Jail officials reportedly realized he was an informant when they reviewed his phone records. The Los Angeles Times reports that jail officials changed Brown’s name on their roster to conceal his location.
For three weeks, Brown was reportedly interrogated about his affiliation with the FBI. He also reports that he was subjected to and witnessed excessive force and abuse. L.A. County spokesman Steve Whitmore denied the allegations and said the sheriff’s department is cooperating with federal officials.
FBI officials said the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department arrests involve five separate cases. The charges stem from incidents that have occurred over a period of two years. Although a federal agent discussed the case during a news conference, he did not go into detail about the charges.
The L.A. County sheriff’s department has faced numerous allegations of excessive force and abuse.Today’s arrests come just one month after 27 Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials were charged with excessive force in a civil case. The officials were found liable and ordered to pay $740,000 in damages.
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