Only On 2: Man Breaks Silence About Excruciating Injuries He Says Were Caused By LA County Deputies
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — In federal court, he is only known by his initials: L – F.
The man’s name is Leo Figueroa and he tells a story of mistreatment at the hands of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies.
In a federal indictment, Figueroa says he suffered at the hands of the deputies and he didn’t even know what he did to warrant their brutal treatment.
“I’m in pain and I turned around and I said, ‘Officer, I think you dislocated my shoulder, what did I do?’ He wouldn’t look at me. I said, ‘What did I do?’”
Figueroa is speaking publicly for the first time about what he says happened to him in the waiting area of the Men’s Central Jail. He said he went to the jail to see his young brother in July 2010.
Figueroa said when he arrived he found his brother, Juan, with two broken teeth and five fractured ribs.
Figueroa said his brother had been having trouble dealing with the recent death of their father. The combat veteran called Leo and said he was in jail and had been beaten by deputies.
“He said, ‘Would you please bring a camera and take pictures because I was assaulted,’ and it made me feel a bit responsible because he’s my brother — my younger brother — and he’s given everything for our country and I promised my dad I was going to look after him,” Figueroa said.
He claims deputies would not let him see his brother, so he demanded to see a watch commander.
Without provocation, Figueroa said a deputy came at him — swinging. Other officers, he says, grabbed him from behind.
“They’re landing on my back, they’re landing on my knee. I don’t know whats going on. All of a sudden I hear, ‘Stop resisting stop resisting!’ I started yelling, ‘I’m in handcuffs, I’m in handcuffs and someone broke my arm.’ I’m in excruciating pain. He smacks my face and my body right into the icebox.”
He says his X-rays tell the rest of the story. Figueroa also received a twisting spiral fracture that split the bone in two.
Later, with his arm dangling by his side — an officer named in the indictment, Sgt. Eric Gonzales — can be heard asking to see his injuries.
Figueroa was taken into custody and held for five days. He says he wasn’t given access to a cast or even a sling.
He and his brother were released and not charged with breaking any laws.
Leo Figueroa’s attorney says the alleged assault took place in the full view of at least three surveillance cameras, but the sheriff’s department did not turn over any video to them.
CBS2′s Randy Paige asked the attorney if he believed there was a cover-up in this case.
“Yes,” he replied, “absolutely. I couldn’t come to any other conclusion.”
The department has declined to comment on any case involved in the indictment.
U.S. Attorney Andre Brirotte says the Figueroa case has prompted the arrest of at least four of the 18 deputies named in the indictment.
Figueroa says his next step is to have surgery to regain use of his arm but he says he can’t afford it. (The $320,000 a jury awarded him in a civil lawsuit will not be paid until the county finishes its appeal of the verdict.)
For now, metal rods and screws hold the bones together while scars on the outside, Figueroa says, keep the mental wounds fresh in his memory.