As the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors prepares to discuss the county budget next week, Dignity and Power Now has released a report identifying major trends in Sheriff misconduct. “Unchecked and Unsettled” finds Sheriff misconduct over the last four years has cost the county millions in court settlements and legal fees. In 2015 this amounted to $61 million, a 24% increase from 2014, and almost double the cost to the county in 2012. Dignity and Power Now is calling for an end to the County’s practice of subsidizing Sheriff misconduct. In addition to issuing settlements to families and survivors, the County Board of Supervisors is called on to immediately divest settlement amounts from the Sheriff’s budget and invest in real public safety for Black and Brown communities.
The report was researched by UCLA School of Law students and supervised by Professor Joanna Schwartz—Director of the Civil Rights and Police Accountability Law Clinic, and is endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, the Youth Justice Coalition, and Californian’s United for a Responsible Budget. Key findings include:
- Shootings by Deputies on patrol accounted for $34 million; a significant portion of the total amount awarded.
- Over one third of settlements for incidents inside the jails were brought by individuals with mental or physical disabilities amounting to over $5 million.
- A significant amount of custody settlements were the result of a failure to provide medical care amounting to $4.2 million.
“The wrongful killing of Donnell Thompson Jr. and Donta Taylor by Sheriffs in Compton is an alarming sign that Sheriff violence continues unchecked.” said Mark-Anthony Johnson, Director of Health and Wellness at Dignity and Power Now. “Real consequences in the form of divestment from LASD’s budget and meaningful deterrence in the form civilian oversight with community representation and subpoena power are the only ways to halt this ongoing human rights crisis. As long as the county keeps throwing money at the problem they are throwing away Black and Brown lives.”