Accountability? Metro Denies Access to Video of Potential Sheriff Mis-Conduct

12.04.25 Newton Response Letter

Way back on February 23rd, Streetsblog updated its readers on our request to get a copy of the video from a Metro bus on January 19th when two Los Angeles County Sheriffs boarded, had an altercation with a mentally disabled woman, and eventually punched the woman in the face. The end of the incident was caught on camera by an army veteran and his smart phone. According to the veteran, the sheriffs tried to confiscate his phone.

During the back and forth in the press between Sheriff Lee Baca, witnesses and the victim; it became clear that the only end to the “he said, she said” was to be able to view the entire scene, from the moment that the law officers entered the bus through the altercation. Fortunately, such a record exists. Unfortunately, Metro is refusing to let anyone look at it.

Streetsblog requested a copy of the video from Metro’s usually helpful public relations department. They referred us to the public relations office. In early February, Metro rejected our request citing state statutes that didn’t seem to apply to this request. When we asked for clarification as to how these statutes applied, Metro sat on the request for ten weeks then sent us a response that didn’t answer any of our myriad of questions.

When we started this investigation, we were looking for information to clarify a public debate. As Metro continues to stonewall, our concerns have become more broad about a culture of policing that doesn’t allow for true public oversight.

We’re continuing to review our options going forward, but it’s clear that Metro isn’t going to hand over the records out of a sense of public responsibility. If you would like to contact a member of the Metro Board of Directors on our behalf, I’m including links to their email addresses after the jump.

Michael Antonovich (Los Angeles County Supervisor, 5th District) Michael Cano ]
Diane DuBois (Councilmember, City of Lakewood) Karen Heit ]
John Fasana (Councilmember, City of Duarte) Mary Lou Echternach ]
José Huizar (Councilmember, City of Los Angeles, 14th District) Paul Habib ]
Richard Katz (Appointee, City of Los Angeles)
Don Knabe (Los Angeles County Supervisor, 4th District ) Julie Moore ]
Gloria Molina (Los Angeles County Supervisor, 1st District) Nicole Englund ]
Ara Najarian (Councilmember, City of Glendale) Maureen Micheline ]
Pam O’Connor (Councilmember, City of Santa Monica) Michael Bohlke ]
Mark Ridley-Thomas (Los Angeles County Supervisor, 2nd District) Dan Rosenfeld ]
Antonio Villaraigosa (Mayor, City of Los Angeles) Borja Leon ]
Mel Wilson (Appointee, City of Los Angeles)
Zev Yaroslavsky (Los Angeles County Supervisor, 3rd District) Vivian Rescalvo ]

6 thoughts on Accountability? Metro Denies Access to Video of Potential Sheriff Mis-Conduct

  1. I’m afraid this whole incident points up one more reason why getting more Southern Californians to ride the bus is a “hard sell”.  When typical citizens are driving their own cars, they don’t have to worry about some nut-case causing a disturbance in the back seat.  We should remember that “bus” is short for “omnibus”, which, in Latin, means “for all”, and unfortunately, “all” includes some people with behavior and/or hygiene problems.

     

  2. Mr. Spokker: I’ve never been to Tokyo, but I do know that Japanese culture is quite a bit different from American culture, and I believe they have different (and probably more successful) ways of dealing with the “winos and weirdos” element in their population.  One could go into quite a dissertation about how, in California, after
     the development of drugs for the treatment of mental disorders, most of the “state homes for the bewildered” were closed, and the patients were sent out into the world with prescriptions for drugs to keep their heads on straight.  Unfortunately, they didn’t always follow the prescribed regimens, and “Sounds like they were off their meds” became a common reaction to weird behavior.

  3. Davistrain, what you say is not untrue, and it is a factor. I would pay a premium to house the mental cases because I absolutely despise the homeless and the crazies. My hate would help drive real change in that we would have proper facilities to get them the care they need. But you also have to take into account that progressives did not want such people to be held against their will despite being a clear danger and nuisance to society. Everything that’s been said about the situation is probably true, including what you have said. 

    However, people who would never be accepted into a mental facility cause trouble on public transportation and in society. After all, crime is not only perpetuated by people with what we would call mental disorders. The buses, for example, are filled with graffiti, and this is not inflicted by those who are “mental” in the clinical sense. Metro does what I think is a good job in trying to defend itself against these malicious actions, but there is only so much they can do. And Lord knows there are enough vandalism apologists on the Streetsblogs and the -ists and what have you. Anyway, what Japan and a few other societies have is a culture that values respect, politeness and other qualities that make for a low urban crime rate that, quite frankly, astonishes me after learning everything I’ve been taught in the first 18 years of my life.

    And it’s not like they do not have people out on the streets. One stroll through Ueno park will tell you that.

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