Video: L.A. County Sheriff's Department again struggles with secret deputy clique accused of wrongdoing
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's decision to seek the firing of six deputies who got into a brawl last year and flashed gang-like hand signs is not the first time the agency has dealt with such issues.
Secret subcultures with names such as the Grim Reapers, the Vikings and the Little Devils have been connected to sheriff's stations, with their members often having matching tattoos. In one instance, a federal judge called one of the groups, the Lynwood Vikings, a "neo-Nazi, white-supremacist gang" that had engaged in racially motivated hostility. The county had to pay $9 million in fines and training costs in 1996 to settle claims.
The deputies involved in the most recent case worked on the third floor of Men's Central Jail, where they allegedly were part of a clique that had certain gang-like characteristics, including three-finger hand signs, representing the third floor. Officials are looking at whether the deputies flashed their hand sign before their alleged assault on two deputies who work on another floor.
Public records obtained by The Times show that deputies assigned to that floor of the jail had a higher number of use-of-force incidents against inmates during a recent four-year period than those assigned to any other floor at the downtown Los Angeles facility. Records show that between 2006 and 2010, the third floor recorded 437 use-of-force incidents, with the next closest floors trailing behind at 426 and 226.
In the video above, Times Staff Writer Robert Faturechi talks about the case.
-- Robert Faturechi