[WATCH] Newly Unsealed Videos Show Violent Jail Extractions Involving LA Deputies and Inmates

LOS ANGELES – It’s disturbing video the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department does not want the public to see – inmates howling in pain, some dragged away bloody and unconscious during a mass cell extraction at Men’s Central Jail in August of 2008.

Eyewitness News fought to get dozens of videos unsealed by the courts, in part because the incident has already cost L.A. County taxpayers millions of dollars in damages and attorney fees – and the costs are still mounting because the case is on appeal.

A federal jury awarded five of the injured inmates nearly $1 million in damages and the judge awarded roughly $5.5 million in fees to the inmates’ attorneys. L.A. County hired a private law firm to defend the case and has not responded to multiple requests by ABC7 for a tally of those costs.

Attorneys for the inmates offered to settle the lawsuit before trial for a total of $1.3 million, but that offer was rejected.

The violent incident is also a stark reminder of the LASD’s darker days, when brutality against inmates was rampant. The Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence released a report in 2012 that found “a persistent pattern of unreasonable force in the Los Angeles County jails that dates back many years.”

The use of force against inmates can be reasonable and justified, but in this case jurors found that dozens of deputies engaged in “malicious and sadistic” conduct for the purpose of causing harm.

“In a circumstance where a cell extraction becomes necessary, there are right ways to do it and wrong ways to do it,” says Peter Eliasberg, chief counsel at the ACLU of Southern California.

“These inmates were just brutally, brutally beaten. They were brought to submission, Tasers were used all over their bodies, they were kicked and punched and beaten in a way that there was no justification for doing,” Eliasberg tells Eyewitness News.

Nineteen of the 20 inmates injured in the extractions were hospitalized – some with broken bones and other severe injuries. One inmate, Carlos Flores, lapsed into a coma. His injuries included blunt trauma to the head, a fractured eye socket and a possible “strangulation injury.”

“This case is the most telling manifestation of the sadistic nature and the ability to act with impunity of deputies in inflicting corporal punishment,” says Ron Kaye, one of the attorneys for the inmates.

“The Sheriff’s Department never believed they could remotely be held accountable, because these guys were criminals – serious criminals – and we are law enforcement, we can do whatever we want,” says Kaye.

To this day, the LASD and their attorneys say the force depicted in these videos was reasonable and justified. In a statement to Eyewitness News, the LASD says the “inmates involved in this incident were some of the most dangerous and violent criminals housed in the high security section of our jails.”

“There are inherent limits to video accurately portraying this kind of situation,” the statement reads. “In this case, the physical constraints of the jail cells added to the difficulty of capturing on video the details of the individual uses of force necessary to overcome the inmates’ resistance.”

For the full story visit: http://abc7.com/unsealed-jail-videos-show-violent-inmate-extractions/2572956/