Federal officials said Thursday, 13 April 2023, that two former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies broke the civil rights of a skateboarder in 2020 and tried to hide it.
The charge was given down by a grand jury last month, and both ex-deputies turned themselves in to the police on Thursday when it was made public.
According to OPD, Miguel Vega and Christopher Hernandez are accused of putting a skateboarder named “J.A.” in the back of their cruiser in Compton in 2020 and holding him there without reason.
He was still in the police car when they went after the skateboarder and crashed into him, hurting him. Prosecutors say that the two then worked together to hide the fact that the 23-year-old guy had been held illegally.
Vega, who is 32, and Hernandez, who is 37, are charged with plotting, taking away rights under the guise of the law, messing with witnesses, and making up records. Vega is being charged with another count of lying on a record. Thursday, their lawyers did not answer an email asking for a reply.
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Later that same year, ex-deputies shot and killed an 18-year-old guy during a foot chase. After the cops chased Andres Guardado on foot, the police say Vega shot him five times in the back. Guardado’s death led to protests, and his family got $8 million from the county to settle a case.
On Thursday, the Los Angeles Times was the first to tell the public about the federal charge. On Thursday afternoon, Vega and Hernandez will be charged.
The LA Times said the deputies will continue working until December 2020.
“The indictment alleges that these two deputies violated a young person’s constitutional rights by willfully and illegally detaining him without just cause,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a news release.
“Officers who abuse their power must be held accountable, and my Office is committed to prosecuting violations of civil rights by those who violate their oaths and victimize those who they were sworn to protect.”
After the charge was made public, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department did not say anything immediately.
On April 13, 2020, Vega and Hernandez went up to two young Black guys in front of a skatepark in Compton. J.A., who was in the fenced park, yelled at the cops to leave the guys alone.
Prosecutors say that the cops pulled J.A. through a hole in the fence and threw him in the back of the car.
“Vega and Hernandez did not handcuff J.A., did not secure J.A.’s seatbelt, did not tell J.A. that J.A. was under arrest, and did not inform J.A. of J.A.’s rights at any time,” according to the indictment.
Prosecutors say that Vega told J.A. they would drop him off in gang territory, while Hernandez told the skateboarder that he would be beaten from the passenger seat. Then Vega, with J.A. still in the backseat, followed a bicycle down an alley, where the deputy lost control of the car and crashed it. Below a Twitter post is given related to this post.
The accusation says that J.A. got a cut above his right eye in the accident. Vega pulled him out of the car and told him to leave, but the deputy later told Vega that a suspect with a gun, wearing clothes like J.A.’s, had left the area. Neither officer said that the skateboarder was in the police car when it crashed.
Prosecutors say that Vega told a sergeant that J.A. was thought to be high on a controlled drug. They said that after J.A. was taken to the hospital for his cut, Hernandez told another officer to write him a ticket for high on methamphetamine.
Prosecutors also say that Vega and Hernandez lied on incident reports later in the month, saying, for example, that J.A. had threatened to hurt people at the skatepark, which was not true.
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