Civil Liberties

Six LASD Officials Found Guilty of Obstruction of Justice


Six Los Angeles Sheriff's Department (LASD) officers were found guilty today in federal court on six counts of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The six were accused of obstructing an ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into corruption and civil rights violations in the Los Angeles County Jail, which is run by LASD.

LASD officers were accused of going out of their way to hide FBI informant Anthony Brown from federal handlers, going as far as moving him around the Men's Central Jail and changing his name. Brown communicated to his handlers incidences of excessive force inside the jail, as well as the names of officers involved. In August 2011, during a cell search, deputies found the mobile phone Brown used to communicate with the FBI.

The six found guilty are among 18 LASD officials charged by the U.S. Attorney's office as a part of five criminal cases, and there is a possibility that more will be indicted. From the Los Angeles Times:

Attorneys repeatedly invoked former sheriff Lee Baca and then-undersheriff Paul Tanaka, alleging that they had been the driving force behind actions taken by the defendants after the department learned of the federal investigation.

Tuesday's verdict could have a bearing on prosecutors' decisions on whether to bring charges against higher-ranking members of the department—they have acknowledged in court that Tanaka, as well as a current captain of the department, remain subjects in the still-open grand jury investigation. Tanaka is currently a candidate for sheriff, heading toward a November runoff.

Reason TV spoke with the the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, who has been monitoring the jail for decades, after the charges were filed: