LA County Denies All Allegations in Sheriff’s Deputy Gang Lawsuit

LA County Denies All Allegations in Sheriff’s Deputy Gang Lawsuit
Graduates of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Academy Class 451 stand for the pledge of allegiance at their graduation ceremony at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park, Calif., on Aug. 21, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Jack Bradley

Lawyers representing Los Angeles County are seeking to dismiss all claims in a lawsuit filed 3 1/2 years ago by eight sheriff’s deputies alleging they were coerced into quitting by their colleagues.

“The undisputed facts show no adverse employment action, no discrimination, no severe or pervasive harassment, no retaliation, no outrageous conduct, no severe emotional distress, no violent threats, no duty of care, no assault or battery in the course of employment, and no deprivation of rights,” county attorneys argue in court papers filed on Feb. 17 with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yolanda Orozco, who is scheduled to hear the county’s motion on March 6.

The plaintiffs, who are seeking an unspecified amount of damages, are deputies Art Hernandez, Alfred Gonzalez, Benjamin Zaredini, David Casas, Louis Granados, Mario Contreras, Oscar Escobedo, and Ariela Lemus.

The lawsuit, originally filed in 2019, named as defendants Los Angeles County, and former deputies Rafael “Rene” Munoz, Gregory Rodriguez, David Silverio, and Michael Hernandez.

According to the county attorneys’ court papers, the county put the defendants on administrative leave and investigated the incident and their involvement.

The suit alleges fellow deputies were a part of the so-called Banditos gang and “sucker-punched” Hernandez, who fell unconscious as they proceeded to kick him during a September 2018 training session at Kennedy Hall, an event venue in East Los Angeles.

The attackers allegedly grabbed Escobedo and choked him unconscious, according to the plaintiffs’ court papers.

County attorneys disputed this, saying in court papers the county isn’t responsible for any of these allegations at Kennedy Hall, as everyone involved was at the training voluntarily, and it was therefore outside the “scope of their employment with the department.”

“None of the attendees were on-duty. And it took place at a site not owned or operated by the County,” the county lawyers’ court papers read.

The plaintiffs also allege they were forced to work unpaid overtime, denied promotions, and were sent hostile messages.

County attorneys said in their court papers that the plaintiffs have no evidence for these allegations.

City News Service contributed to this report.