Friday Poll Day: Guess the Sheriff’s Punnishment

Will the sheriff who struck a partially restrained woman on board the Metro bus receive any discipline outside of "retraining?"

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The day after video surfaced of an L.A. County Sheriff punching a woman in the face while his partner restrained her on a Metro Bus, the story had been told around the world.  Strong arm of the law: Video shows shocking moment cop punches woman, screamed the headline of the Daily Mail in England.  LA County Sheriff’s Deputy Elbows Woman in the Face [SHOCKING VIDEO] exclaimes the headline at the International Business Journal’s Website.

Closer to home, the Los Angeles Times managed a full seven paragraphs on the attack in its print edition, five of which were excuse making from the Sheriff’s Department (LASD), despite the story being featured on every local English and Spanish language news show in Los Angeles.  Even though the assault occured on a Metro Bus, The Souce hasn’t seen fit to even mention the incident.

To its credit, the paper of record has been following the story in its blog section LA_Now.  Despite it’s rather lame headlines, these four stories give enough background to get a clear picture of the story.

On Wednesday morning, the story broke that an L.A. County Sheriff has punched a woman in the face on a bus.  Included with the story was a video shot clearly showing the woman was partially restrained and offering minimal resistance when struck.  Apparently, the police recognized the woman as they knew that she had a record of assaulting LASD deputies.  LASD has not released her criminal record.

Making the matter worse, the deputies then allegedly tried to intimidate the citizen journalist, Iraq war veteran Jermaine Green, into giving up his phone.  The attempt clearly failed.  Despite their actions, both sheriffs remain on active duty.

Later that day, after enduring a barrage of terrible local, national and international press, LASD released the 911 call that prompted the deputies to board the bus and confront and later attack the woman.  The 911 caller called from a bus stop complaining that a special needs passenger was threatening other passengers…that she was literally “trying to pick a fight with everyone.”  The videographer of the confrontation claims the woman was acting pleastently towards other passengers on the bus itself until the Sheriffs boarded.

The second article also revealed that Sheriff Lee Baca stated that the attacking officer would be held accountable, but stopped short of saying he would be disciplined.  Because apparently there are other ways of holding people accountable besides disciplining them.

Yesterday morning, the Times printed its seven paragraph story that was more excuses and explanations than a description of what happened.

The Times updates the story online covering the events of the day before, and including this gem from Baca.

“If the individual deputy who swung an elbow at the lady is looking at that as a sensible solution, we need to retrain that individual,” he told KNX-AM (1070).

Later, KNBC tracks down the victim to get her side of the story.  The woman claims she never assaulted an officer, but doesn’t deny spending time in jail for something.  She also claims she was being harassed at the bus stop and that her verbal threats to another passenger were really self-defense.

So here’s where we are.  A woman was acting strange or aggressive enough at a bus stop for someone to call 911.  After the woman boards the bus and it goes a stop, the Sheriffs board.  The woman, who was behaving normally on the bus itself, curses the Sheriffs.  While the confrontation is going on, a man is filming the entire issue.  Knowing he was being filmed, a male officer strikes the woman while his partner partially restrains her.  He then tries to get the man to turn over his phone through verbal imtimidation.

That LASD Sheriff Baca believes this to be a training issue is alarming.  Rather than come down on an officer whose out-of-control behavior shocked viewers around the world, the LASD is engaging in spin control.  Meanwhile Metro, the agency who pays for the Sheriffs to police its buses and trains is deafening everyone with their silence.

  • Guest

    It has been reported that she has been arrested in the past for violet crimes (even she admitted she spent time in jail, yet wouldn’t say what for. Hmmm). Even before Police/Sheriff officers arrived the woman was acting out enough for someone to call 911. Everyone is drawing conclusions from a bad cell phone video which is far from the whole story (on either side which you might be on).

    But, we all have been on buses, trains, subways, where someone “freaks you out” or scares you. I have been freaked out and I can take care of myself. Maybe if we let the BRU get what they want, more buses and less cops we will have less of these reports. At the same time, more of us will commute scared or “freak” out. You choose–

  • Anonymous

     Police reaction should be to the situation they encounter as they arrive on the scene, not based on semi-anonymous “tips” phoned into 911 from bystanders.

    Any other policy leads to dangerous prejudice and chaos. 

  • Anonymous

    If the 911 call can be released, why has LA Metro not released the on-board bus video to the public?

    Why has it only been released to the LASD?

  • Urban Reason

    Honestly, I’m a little frustrated by language like “out-of-control behavior” on the part of the officer. The mentally ill woman was out of control. The officer, whether or not you agree with his course of action, seemed completely in control. After a prolonged confrontation, he struck her once to subdue her. He didn’t beat her, or continue assaulting her.

    I’m against abuse of power, but that doesn’t appear to be what happened here. Every time I’ve been threatened or intimidated by an unpredictable, mentally ill passenger on public transportation I’ve just WISHED an officer were there to remove them. While there may be a more civil course of action – if one psychotic passenger got a single forearm to the face to quiet them down, I think I’m okay with that.

  • Guest

    @TAPman:disqus  multiple sources have reported that she was arrested in the past for violent crimes. You are basing your judgment on the Cops on a bad cell phone video. Lets see how this plays out before rushing to judgment on either side.

  • Urban Reason

    @TAPman:disqus I certainly agree with you. But judging the officers based on the statement of one guy (not saying that’s what you were doing) who may or may not have been playing Angry Birds with headphones on prior to officers boarding is roughly equivalent to reacting to a situation based on semi-anonymous “tips” as opposed to the situation they encounter.

  • Hey Urban Reason the last time I checked we are still in the United States where we have a constitution.  I can say what ever the fuck I want to a “peace officer” and it should not come with physical violence.  The problem with officers of the law is they often make situations worse with their over-reactions. 

    What the officer did is called assault if I did it to you.

  • Urban Reason

    @twitter-13373:disqus I certainly respect your opinion, though I’m not entirely sure to what articles of the constitution you are referring or how you feel they apply to this situation. But it is lawful in most places for police to use non-lethal force to subdue someone resisting arrest. And this force was hardly excessive. 

    Indeed it would be assault if you did that to me – but you’re not given legal authority to use force, and I have no legal obligation to comply with anything you say. So….

  • calwatch

    I’ve lost a lot of respect for LASD recently with their jail fiasco and this. Before LASD was considered to be the more professional operation compared to LAPD, but LASD is now worse than LAPD. The problem is Baca just wants to jet around the world proclaiming himself an expert, and is delegating management to folks like Assistant Sheriff (and Gardena mayor) Paul Tanaka, which is negligence.  

    However, it should be noted that discipline of officers (as are all County employees) is extraordinarily difficult. The deputies can appeal to a higher management level through a Skelly Hearing and also through the Civil Service Commission. In addition, the ALADS (deputy union) has an aggressive legal defense program for its members. 

  • Davistrain

    One of the reasons why we have so many incidents involving “mentally disturbed” persons is that about 40 or 50 years ago, the “powers that be” were convinced that drug therapy would “straighten out the nut cases” and only the worst would have to be confined in state hospitals.  Unfortunately, getting the folks with “static in the attic” to “stay on their meds” has proven to be a challenge.  Among other things, it’s one more excuse for avoiding public transit if one has a car available.  It also accounts for part of the “plight of the homeless”.   And it makes life harder for law enforcement officers who have to deal with people who don’t respond to lawful orders like a rational person would.

  • Fakename70

    Typical, some of the comments. “Typical” as in bending over backwards to make excuses for yet another hot-headed cop.

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