Shocking new videos expose violence in LA prisons: Guards kneel on inmate’s neck – and beat another while handcuffed
Shocking new videos have exposed the violence in LA County jails, with guards kneeling on an inmate’s neck.
Newly released videos ordered Thursday by a California judge showed officers using excessive force and beating inmates.
The videos, which span a timeframe from October 2019 to July 2022, were released as part of a lawsuit filed by Alex Rosas and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
A lawsuit has been filed against the Sheriff’s Department over its treatment of inmates, with the LA Times and WitnessLA requesting the videos be released.
In one video, a prisoner is pinned to the ground and swarmed by officers who have applied so-called WRAP.
Another is grabbed by two officers who pin him to the ground, while one of them kneels on the prisoner’s neck.
The videos, which span a timeframe from October 2019 to July 2022, were released as part of a lawsuit filed by Alex Rosas and the American Civil Liberties Union.
A County of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department bus drives past Tower One of the Men’s Central Jail, as seen from Vignes Street in downtown Los Angeles
The WRAP is a form of restraint used when prisoners do not follow the rules and is somewhat similar to a straitjacket.
Other clips show prisoners receiving blows to the head, and another shows two officers grabbing a prisoner as he leaves the cell and slamming his head into a wall.
During the entire interaction, the prisoner has his hands behind his back.
Before the county turned over the footage, the identities of the staff and inmates were blurred, with all but one remaining silent.
It is also impossible to know what happened before or after the incidents shown.
Attorneys for the county fought to keep the images confidential, but after a hearing earlier this year, U.S. District Court Judge Dean Pregerson ordered their release.
Peter Eliasberg, chief counsel for the ACLU of Southern California, told the LA times The videos show that ‘unnecessary violence’ is used.
Eliasberg told the station that the “most brutal” clip was the one in which two deputies slam an inmate’s head into a wall.
He said the video shows an “absolutely unnecessary” use of force for which “there is clearly no justification.”
Eliasberg added: “The prisoner does nothing to them. And honestly, even if he had, it’s almost impossible to justify that kind of violence.”
Here a prisoner, with his hands behind him, is seen being grabbed by two officers after leaving his cell
The two deputies slam his head into the wall outside his cell, while another deputy rushes in to help – despite the inmate not provoking the men in the clip
According to Eliasberg, the officer who put his knee on a prisoner’s neck was not disciplined for his behavior.
Aside from footage of the punching and kneeling incidents, one of the videos shows a person bleeding on the ground and groaning, and officers using the WRAP device to subdue him.
ACLU attorneys raised concerns that officers covered the man’s face with a spit mask, which is used to prevent people from spitting as he bled.
The LA Times reported that after a medical examination, the inmate was found to have suffered an orbital bone fracture.
In a statement on their website, the Sheriff’s Department said, “The incidents depicted in these six videos do not reflect the measures now in place to hold deputies accountable when they violate the department’s strict policies.”
“Each of the violent incidents depicted in these videos occurred during the administration of a previous sheriff.”
Officers managed to deploy The Wrap security on this inmate, who was loaded into a cart and driven away
One of the videos shows a person on the ground bleeding and groaning, and officers use the WRAP device to subdue him
ACLU attorneys expressed concern that officers covered the man’s face with a spit mask
The statement added that with the policy changes, violent incidents have fallen by 17% in 2022 and a further 20% so far this year.
The ACLU says videos sometimes take years to be released, so they don’t know if those numbers are accurate.
According to the Vera Institute of Justice, the state of California is one of the “epicenters” of mass incarceration in the country.
The institute reports that agencies make nearly 800,000 arrests and more than 600,000 bookings in provincial jails each year.
Specific to Los Angeles County, black people are arrested at a disproportionately higher rate than any other ethnicity, according to data from the institute.
The arrest rate for black people in the county is 3.4 times higher than that of white people.