LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says calls for him to step down are “downright un-American” and has signaled he would not honor a subpoena from local officials.
Villanueva made the remarks on Wednesday during a weekly scheduled Facebook question-and-answer session.
He has been blasted by county supervisors Sheila Kuehl, Mark Ridley-Thomas and others for his leadership during several deadly deputy-involved shootings, the arrest of KPCC radio reporter Josie Huang covering a protest, and allegations of a gang within the LASD.
Two of some of the high-profile deadly deputy shootings under Villanueva’s leadership include the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Andres Guardado in June and the shooting death of 29-year-old Dijon Kizzee last month.
Both shootings have led to widespread protests across the Los Angeles area and calls for transparency and accountability with the LASD, including addressing the lack of deputies having body-worn cameras.
“Like the members of the Civilian Oversight Commission, I remain troubled by the Sheriff’s conduct and the way he has interfered with advancing reform and enhancing accountability,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said in a statement.
As for Keuhl, she called Villanueva “a rogue sheriff” who has cost L.A. County millions of dollars in claims of excessive force.
“It is really important for this sheriff to understand that his behavior, his violation of any of the common rules that govern a law enforcement agency, is the greatest threat to public safety,” Keuhl commented.
Villanueva has insisted that his direct supervisor is the state’s Attorney General’s Office, not the Civilian Oversight Commission, which has been criticizing his actions.
“You heard members of the Oversight Commission jumping up and down about somehow I’m breaking the law and I’m rogue or I’m not willing to accept oversight, I think they really miss the point,” Villanueva said.
“Somehow they’ve deluded themselves into believing they could create a political entity known as the Civilian Oversight Commission, and somehow I all of a sudden became subordinate to the Oversight Commission, and they could subpoena me at will and I’m supposed to sit there and be lectured by the Oversight Commission and somehow that public shaming venture somehow honors the state constitution and honors the role of the sheriff as an independent elected official, and honors the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branch. Of course it doesn’t – this is a political entity created by the board for the sole purpose of waging a proxy war against me.”
Villanueva said he would not honor any subpoena issued against him and accused county officials of overstepping their boundaries.
“There’s only three categories that they’re not entitled to get: They’re not entitled to get active, administrative and criminal investigations, period,” he said.
Last week, Civilian Oversight Commission member Robert Bonner was the first to call for Villanueva’s resignation, and the effort was later publicly supported by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas.
“For those who are calling for my resignation, you’re going to be disappointed,” Villanueva said. “…You need to start looking at what you’re doing, how are you serving your community? If you think you’re going to throw rocks at me as sheriff or the sheriff’s department or the profession of law enforcement to somehow advance something, no, you’re not doing anything … You’re only serving yourself, you’re serving a narrow agenda (that) has nothing to do with keeping the community safe, getting the community together. …You’re driving people apart, you’re doing it for profit, for ideological motives that does not advance the cause of peace and safety in our society, and it’s just downright un-American.
“So if you find yourself in one of those groups — and as elected officials, you’re part of that group, you know who you are, you need to knock it off,” he continued.
Villanueva said the department still plans to roll out body-worn cameras for LASD deputies at stations in Lakewood, Industry, Century, West Hollywood and Lancaster.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)