A law enforcement watchdog group filed a legal action against Los Angeles County Thursday for allegedly refusing to disclose about 1,000 misconduct claims and lawsuits against the Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office.
The Human Rights Defense Center brought the petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeking a court order directing the records to be turned over by the county, which the petitioner alleges has acted in defiance of the California Public Records Act in denying the group’s request for access.
The petitioners are represented by the UC Irvine School of Law Intellectual Property, Arts and Technology Clinic. The county settled the claims and lawsuits for more than $500 million over eight years, the petition states. A representative for the county did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
“The public has a right to know the details of these claims and lawsuits, and settlements, which cost taxpayers more than $550 million in attorneys’ fees and settlement costs from 2012 to 2020,” said Paul Wright, HRDC executive director. “At a time when the public overwhelmingly supports police reform, the county cannot choose to keep the problems with its Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office under a veil of secrecy.”
The county refused to provide copies of pre-litigation claims, lawsuits, settlement agreements and court judgments, which contain details about wrongful deaths, excessive force, sexual assaults and other alleged misconduct by sheriff’s deputies as well as misconduct by prosecutors, according to the petition.