Los Angeles sheriff relieves jail employees of duty over inmate neglect complaint

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 11, 2015 11:54 PM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has relieved 10 jail employees of duty and reassigned others over an inmate's complaint that he was denied food for more than a day, the sheriff said in a statement on Saturday.

The officers relieved of duty include two lieutenants and one sergeant, according to the sheriff's department.

The action by Sheriff Jim McDonnell, who was elected to the position last year, follows several scandals at the department's jails that have drawn increased scrutiny of detention facilities that collectively rank as the nation's largest jail system, with about 20,000 inmates.

The investigation into the latest suspected misconduct began with a complaint filed by an inmate on June 27, eight days after being booked.

According to the sheriff's department statement, it appeared that after the male inmate reportedly assaulted a female sheriff's deputy, he was restrained in handcuffs for about 32 hours, denied food and given only a cup of water. During that time, he was given medical attention, the department said.

"Immediately upon learning of troubling allegations of possible neglect of an inmate at the inmate reception center, my department's executives relieved 10 jail employees of duty, including supervisors," McDonnell said in the statement.

"The investigation into this incident is ongoing," he added.

Besides the employees relieved of duty, other unspecified employees have been reassigned pending investigation, the department said.

The department has faced past allegations of excessive force at its jails. In April, a federal judge in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union approved the establishment of an oversight panel for a plan to prevent excessive use of force by sheriff's deputies at two large downtown Los Angeles jails.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice said the treatment of mentally ill inmates in the Los Angeles County jails violated their constitutional rights.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Chris Michaud and Clarence Fernandez)