A federal civil jury concluded yesterday that Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is personally liable for an inmate abuse case from 2009. And it could cost the sheriff $100,000. This marks the first time Baca has been held personally and legally responsible for a beating in his jails.
Tyler Willis alleged that sheriff’s deputies brutally beat him as he was awaiting trial at Men’s Central jail—punching, kicking, shooting him with a stun gun, and striking him with a flashlight, which caused multiple injuries. The plaintiff’s side argued that Sheriff Baca ignored warnings from studies that indicated a harsh level of brutality at his jails. The sheriff was one of five named defendants, and Baca will reportedly pay up $100,000 for his part—unless the decision is overturned by appeal.
The Coalition to End Sheriff Violence in LA County Jails released a statement today welcoming the jury’s finding, but added that the decision indicates the need for civilian oversight. “Those in custody and their families should not have to take their cases to the Federal level to receive justice and ensure accountability,” the statement read.
The federal jury’s decision comes on the heels of a federal investigation into Sheriff Baca’s department—particularly for its use of force.