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L.A. sheriff's official testifies on jail brutality

Posted: July 7, 2012 4:30 p.m.
Updated: July 7, 2012 4:30 p.m.
 

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles County sheriff's captain who ran the Men's Central Jail joked about hitting inmates and resisted calls to investigate deputies who were accused of excessive force, according to testimony by his former lieutenant.

Michael Bornman, now a department captain, described a culture of brutality fostered by Capt. Daniel Cruz, who was placed on leave after an investigation of his tenure was launched.

Bornman testified Friday before the county commission created to address allegations of brutality inside the sheriff's jails, the Los Angeles Times reported (http://lat.ms/N2Gq0B).

He recalled a Christmas party at which Cruz laughingly reminded jailers not to hit inmates in the face, so as not to leave a mark.

While toasting deputies at the party, Cruz allegedly asked a banquet hall-full of deputies: "What do I always tell you guys?"

In unison, Bornman said, the jail deputies — many of whom were also laughing — responded "Not in the face," the Times reported.

"That's right," Cruz replied, according to Bornman.

Bornman said Cruz's managing style, in part, led to dozens of force and misconduct cases not being properly investigated or processed.

In his testimony, Bornman noted several instances in which Cruz resisted going after deputies for alleged misconduct, according to the newspaper. In one case, he described a roomful of supervisors watching footage of deputies beating an inmate. The video showed one jailer casually leaning against a door frame, occasionally landing knee drops into the prisoner's torso.

Despite the clear excessive force by the deputies, Bornman said Cruz turned to the other jail supervisors and said "I see nothing wrong with that use of force."

Bornman and Capt. Patrick Maxwell, who also testified, said the department's problems went all the way to the top. Maxwell, who heads the sheriff's Norwalk station, said Paul Tanaka, currently the department's second in command, was dismissive of internal affairs investigators, who are responsible for looking into allegations of misconduct.

According to Maxwell, Tanaka said at a meeting: "Do you believe LAPD, they have 200 and some (internal affairs) investigators and we have 45. In my opinion, that's 44 too many."

Tanaka and Sheriff Lee Baca declined to comment, through sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore. Cruz did not return calls to his home for comment.

Five commanders assigned last year by Baca to reform the jails also testified, the Times said. Two of them warned commissioners that those testifying may be presenting a biased picture.

"You are seeing one side. Unfortunately there's not a cross-examination," Cmdr. Christy Guyovich said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

 

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