LOS ANGELES – A deputy accused of beating a 19-year-old inmate in a patrol car as the teen was being transported from the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station has been charged with felony assault, authorities announced Friday.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy Matthew John Funicello, 31, is charged with one count of assault under the color of authority, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.
The charges were filed Thursday and Funicello was arrested around 6:50 p.m. that day and booked at the Crescenta Valley Station; he was released less than an hour later on $35,000 bail, according to LASD inmate records.
Funicello is accused of punching a 19-year-old inmate several times in the face and torso as the inmate was in the back seat of a patrol car being transported from the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station to the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles. The alleged assault occurred on July 22, 2011.
According to published reports, the inmate is Dewayne Wright, and the investigation was initiated after a citizen complaint.
Deputy Funicello was placed on paid leave shortly after the alleged beating, and he continued to receive pay until Thursday when he was charged, NBC Los Angeles reports.
Funicello is scheduled to be arraigned on May 20 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Department 30.
If convicted, Funicello faces up to three years in county jail.