LOS ANGELES – Eight Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies are suing the county, alleging they were pressured to quit their jobs or leave the East Los Angeles Station by members of the Banditos gang, a clique of mostly Latino deputies.
The plaintiffs also allege in their Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed Tuesday, Sept. 17, that they were threatened and bullied in attempts to get them to conform to a “corrupt culture,” that they were denied needed backup help on dangerous calls and that they were “shaken down” and ordered to pay taxes to the gang. Some alleged they were hit and choked unconscious.
The suit also criticizes Sheriff Alex Villanueva for rehiring Deputy Caren Carl Mandoyan, who had been fired on domestic violence allegations, while also pledging to rehire other deputies fired for misconduct by his predecessor, Jim McDonnell.
“By trying to rehire all these wayward cops, Sheriff Villanueva attempted to erase any accountability for wrongful conduct over the last four years,” the suit alleges. “It is common knowledge that zero good deputies want to be transferred to and work at the East Los Angeles station …”
An LASD representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The suit’s plaintiffs are Deputies Art Hernandez, Alfred Gonzalez, Benjamin Zaredini, David Casas, Louis Granados, Mario Contreras, Oscar Escobedo and Ariela Lemus. All were formerly assigned to the East Los Angeles Station. Their allegations include racial discrimination, harassment, assault, battery, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and civil rights violations. They seek unspecified damages.
The deputies sued along with Los Angeles County are Rafael “Rene” Munoz, Gregory Rodriguez, David Silverio and Michael Hernandez.
The suit notes that Deputy Carrie Robles was a young deputy who in November 2017 was responding to a report of a shooting when her vehicle was involved in a chain-reaction crash near Whittier Boulevard and Indiana Street in Boyle Heights that left 7-year-old Jose Luis Hernandez and his 9-year-old brother, Marcos, dead. The suit alleges Robles was a “Banditos associate” who was being supervised by a “shot caller” for the gang.
Robles was found to be at fault in the accident, but was not criminally charged, according to the lawsuit.
Previous related story: Deputies claim gang at East L.A. sheriff’s station terrorize them