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Brutal Beating Reveals Ongoing Reign of Terror in L.A. County Jails

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February 8, 2011

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department today launched an internal investigation after Esther Lim, a jail monitor for the ACLU of Southern California, submitted a sworn statement in federal court yesterday recounting the details of a brutal beating she witnessed of an inmate in the Twin Towers Correctional Facility by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy. Twin Towers is one of the several facilities that make up the Los Angeles County jail system.

Detained for a nonviolent marijuana possession charge, the inmate, James Parker, lay motionless, face-down on the floor while sheriff’s deputies repeatedly punched, kneed and tasered him. Esther said in the statement: “Mr. Parker looked like he was a mannequin that was being used as a punching bag. I thought he was knocked out, or perhaps even dead.”

Christopher Brown, the inmate Lim was visiting that day, also submitted a statement corroborating her account.

The next day, sheriff’s deputies claimed in the jail’s Inmate Reception Center Daily Log that Parker had been fighting and resisting, a charge that Peter Eliasberg, the managing attorney for the ACLU of Southern California, calls “blatantly false.” Lim told the Los Angeles Times in a story that appeared online last night that the ACLU commonly receives complaints form inmates who say deputies beat them while screaming at them to “stop resisting,” even when the inmates aren’t resisting.

Lim and Brown’s statement were filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, to bolster a motion in a long-standing lawsuit against the county jail system. That motion, filed last November, seeks a federal court order prohibiting jail deputies from retaliating against prisoners through violence or threats.

A report released last September shows this kind of violence is, unfortunately all too common in L.A. County Jails. We hope the court will take action to protect prisoners from this kind of abuse.

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