The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to pay $525,000 to settle a lawsuit claiming that sheriff’s deputies falsely arrested a man — and falsified reports to back up the move — who subsequently lost his business and custody of his children for 10 months.
According to a summary provided to the board by its attorneys, on Jan. 8, 2019, two deputies out of the sheriff’s Lakewood Station on patrol in Bellflower said they saw Shaun Marshall hand something to another man and then place something on the bumper of a truck when he spotted the patrol car approaching.
When deputies called out, the unnamed other man told them he was on probation and admitted to having methamphetamine in his pocket.
Deputies said that when they returned to the spot where the two men had been standing outside a tire shop, they found an empty Marlboro box on the truck bumper with a baggie of methamphetamine inside, the summary said.
Both men were arrested on possession charges.
But after Marshall was released on bail and reviewed a copy of his arrest report, he returned to the tire shop, which he operated in a leased space, and pulled surveillance video of the arrest, according to the board summary.
Marshall tried to file a report of false arrest, which he alleged the watch commander refused to take.
The arrest had devastating consequences, according to Marshall’s claim, as represented in the board summary.
“As a result of the arrest and criminal filing, a district attorney allegedly threatened the owner of the (tire shop space),” the summary stated.
Marshall’s lease was subsequently terminated, leading to the loss of his business, and then the Department of Children and Family Services instituted proceedings to find he and his wife unfit parents, according to his suit as represented in board documents. His two children were placed in foster care for 10 months.
While Marshall apparently did not initially release the video to the Lakewood Station and an inquiry into the incident was dropped for lack of evidence, he did ultimately share the footage with the District Attorney’s Office. The criminal case against Marshall was dismissed in March 2019 “in furtherance of justice.”
When other investigations started up and the video was released to investigators, a Lakewood Station lieutenant reviewed the surveillance and “found the events depicted were contrary to those reported by the two deputies in their written incident report.”
No hand-to-hand exchange could be seen in the footage, which also offered no record of Marshall leaving something on the bumper of the truck.
One of two department-related root causes listed is “due to false identification and arrest, the plaintiff’s children were removed from the plaintiff’s custody.” The other cause is “the first and second deputy sheriff’s failure to accurately identify person(s) involved in a narcotics transaction.”
The case is currently under review by the Justice System Integrity Division of the District Attorney’s Office to determine whether a crime was committed by the deputies, who were not named in the summary.
As a result of the incident, Lakewood Station supervisors have briefed deputies on suspects’ Fourth- and 14th-Amendment rights and refreshed their understanding of report writing, according to the corrective action plan.