LOS ANGELES – Four of eight Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, who allege they were pressured to quit their jobs or leave their stations by members of a clique of mostly Latino deputies known as the Banditos, are not entitled to a temporary restraining order stopping disciplinary proceedings against them from proceeding until the trial of their suit is over, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Randolph M. Hammock told the plaintiffs’ attorney, Vincent Miller, that there was no emergency basis for issuing a TRO.
“You can talk all you want and it’s not going to happen,” the judge said.
However, Hammock told Miller he can bring a regular motion, with proper notice, requesting a preliminary injunction and he will hear arguments on Dec. 18, along with the plaintiffs’ request to expand their lawsuit by adding a claim under the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act.
Deputies Art Hernandez, Alfred Gonzalez, Benjamin Zaredini, David Casas, Louis Granados, Mario Contreras, Oscar Escobedo and Ariela Lemus are seeking unspecified damages on allegations that include racial discrimination, harassment, assault, battery, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and civil rights violations.
Their lawsuit, filed in September 2019, names as defendants Los Angeles County and Deputies Rafael “Rene” Munoz, Gregory Rodriguez, David Silverio and Michael Hernandez.
The disciplinary protection sought by the plaintiffs dealt with the events that allegedly occurred during a September 2018 training session at Kennedy Hall, an East Los Angeles event venue, at which the plaintiffs maintain the defendants violently attacked them. The suit alleges the defendant deputies threatened the lives of Gonzalez and his family before attacking all of the plaintiffs.
Banditos gang members “sucker-punched” . and “knocked him out cold,” then kicked him while he was unconscious and unable to defend himself, according to the plaintiffs’ court papers. The suit alleges the assailants also grabbed Escobedo from behind twice and choked him unconscious in a manner that could have killed him.
The lawsuit alleges the plaintiffs 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 LASD initiated an internal affairs investigation into the plaintiffs regarding the Kennedy Hall incident in April, and four months later four were served with notices of proposed discipline, according to the plaintiffs’ court papers. The LASD alleges the four plaintiff deputies failed to report the incident to an immediate supervisor and embarrassed the department, according to the plaintiffs’ court papers.
“The plaintiffs’ counsel reminded Sheriff (Alex) Villanueva that it was against the law to discipline the plaintiff victims,” the plaintiffs’ court papers state. “LASD refuses to cease the disciplinary process.”
In their court papers, lawyers for the county state no emergency exists warranting the issuance of a TRO. The plaintiffs knew of the scheduled disciplinary hearings in August “and offer no explanation as to why they waited over two months to file this application…,” according to the county attorneys’ court papers.