LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The American Civil Liberties Union Wednesday issued a scathing 26-page report blasting Sheriff Lee Baca, who they say fosters a brutal and corrupt jail system.
The report, outlining 72 inmate beatings, also said conditions in the jails in LA County were “violent and horrific.”
The ACLU says deputies don’t just maintain law and order but instigate fights and brutality. The group says they received “thousands” of brutality complaints in just the past year.
Former Men’s Central Jail inmate Gordon Grbavac told KCAL9’s Dave Lopez that he was set upon, for no reason, by two deputies. “They just took my head and beat me into a wall. Like you would take a battering ram to knock down a door.”
Jail Projects Coordinator Esther Lim told Lopez she also saw two deputies beat an inmate, apparently for no reason, while she was with a client in the attorney’s room. “I saw two deputies beat an inmate. He wasn’t fighting with them. He wasn’t resisting.”
The ACLU wants Baca to resign. They blame him, personally, for what they called “pervasive abuse and cover-ups of inmates being beaten under his watch.”
Baca, who says he welcomes criticism and any and all investigations, seemed to shrug off the call for his resignation by saying, “Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It’s one of those bad days for the ACLU.”
Baca also said, “I will not tolerate excessive violence in the LA County Jail. Our goal is to out-ACLU the ACLU.”
Lopez asked Baca if he welcomed an investigation because he runs a clean operation. He replied, “That’s correct.”
He also said he personally fires 3-5 deputies a year for using excessive force in the jail.
Peter Eliasberg, Legal Director of the ACLU/SC, says “I don’t see how this department can clean itself up with (Baca) in control…even if you had a good, thorough federal investigation.”