According to KTLA5, on Thursday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced his decision to suspend or terminate 26 employees. The reason behind this is for their involvement in a fight during an off-duty party at the East L.A. station, at which several deputies said they were attacked by tattooed members of the Banditos clique.
“I’m adopting a zero-tolerance policy,” Villanueva told reporters Thursday. “If you form a group, you mistreat people, yes, we will seek to make sure you’re no longer a member of the department.”
He added later: “But we’re not gonna go on an inquisition and go through the entire 18,000 employees of the department to see if they have a tattoo or they’re a member of a group. That would be inappropriate and wildly speculative. We’re trying to run an organization, not engage in a witch hunt.”
The exact number of deputies is unknown at this time. Policy violations included a failure to report the September 2018 incident to supervisors.
The administrative investigation, which involved interviews with more than 70 people, found that some employees at East L.A. station were acting as so-called “shot callers,” controlling scheduling and events at the police station, she said, using a referenced term used to describe top leaders in prisons and gangs.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office back in February made a previous decision to decline filing charges against a sergeant and three deputies involved in the said incident at Kennedy Hall, saying there was “insufficient evidence” that Sergeant Michael Hernandez along with deputies Rafael Munoz, Gregory Rodriguez, and David Silverio committed battery or any crimes. In a reportedly 28-page memo, prosecutors stated that 21 deputies identified as possible witnesses declined to be interviewed. The disciplinary actions were officially announced this week.
Because they did not want to provide statements, Inspector General Max Huntsman concluded that the criminal investigation amounted to a cover-up.