The Los Angeles County district lawyer’s workplace has launched a legal investigation into the habits of a number of probation officers seen piling on high of a young person and bending his legs towards his head in a video first revealed by The Occasions final week.
Tiffiny Blacknell, chief spokesperson for the district lawyer’s workplace, mentioned prosecutors “have obtained a replica of the surveillance footage depicting the incident” and can assign a deputy district lawyer and investigator to the matter.
Within the footage, captured inside Camp Kilpatrick in Malibu in 2020, a 17-year-old boy may be seen arguing with a number of probation officers. He’s pressured face down onto a mattress, the place one officer grabs his neck and several other others pile on high of him.
The teenager — who requested that he solely be recognized by his first identify, Beckham, as a result of he was a juvenile on the time of the incident — mentioned he was hungry and have become upset when he wasn’t given entry to meals.
Within the video, a probation division supervisor recognized as Oscar Cross may be seen shoving the boy earlier than the melee begins. Throughout the wrestle, 4 officers seize the boy’s limbs, pressure him onto a mattress by his neck and place a knee in his again.
As soon as the opposite officers seem to have Beckham subdued, Cross may be seen grabbing the boy’s legs and bending his ft towards his head, yelling “cease resisting!” as the teenager screams out for his mom.
Makes an attempt to contact Cross have been unsuccessful. The probation division didn’t instantly reply to questions in regards to the district lawyer’s workplace investigation. The L.A. County Workplace of the Inspector Common started investigating the incident final month after studying of The Occasions’ inquiries on the matter.
Prison justice specialists, and even some members of the probation division who spoke to The Occasions on the situation of anonymity, have decried the actions depicted within the video as extreme pressure and “baby abuse.”
The video is the newest in a prolonged stream of controversies the probation division has confronted in recent times.
The Bureau of State and Neighborhood Corrections has repeatedly discovered the probation division “unsuitable” to accommodate youths in recent times, and a class-action lawsuit filed final yr alleged greater than 70 women have been sexually assaulted by probation workers between 1985 and 2019. Final November, a Occasions investigation chronicled months of chaos and violence contained in the county’s juvenile halls within the midst of a staffing disaster.
An inside disciplinary board initially moved to fireside Cross in 2021, in accordance with data reviewed by The Occasions, however Probation Division Chief Adolfo Gonzales overrode them and saved his job. Cross remains to be employed as a supervisor at Camp Kilpatrick, data present. Gonzales didn’t present footage of the video to both the district lawyer’s workplace or any of the oversight boards that monitor the more and more troubled probation division.
The video sparked a small protest at Tuesday’s assembly of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, the place roughly a dozen youth advocates urged county leaders to chop the probation division’s funding and fireplace Gonzales.
“I stand earlier than you outraged and in disbelief,” mentioned Gloria Gonzalez, with the Youth Justice Coalition, her voice shaking. “I can not perceive the way you all can sit there and permit and fund and fund and fund abuse, fund sexual assault with out holding probation accountable. … What else do it’s good to watch for? Would you like somebody to die?”
In a memo issued to his workers on Tuesday, Gonzales defended the choice to not fireplace Cross. Whereas he described the pressure used as “not acceptable,” he mentioned he believed sparing Cross’ job was reflective of the company’s core mission of rehabilitation.
“I concluded that important progressive self-discipline, not termination, was the suitable response on this case. I made this choice primarily based on a number of components, together with a assessment of the proof, and consideration of the workers member’s service file,” the chief wrote in a replica of the letter obtained by The Occasions.
“I used to be additionally aware of our central mission. We prioritize rehabilitation over incarceration,” he wrote. “We’re within the enterprise of giving second possibilities. That philosophy applies not solely to our shoppers however to our workers — inside cause.”