On July 1, 2022, the Social Justice Legal Foundation (SJLF) submitted an amicus brief which brought to light evidence that two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) deputies—whose testimony was key to a pending case—are members of a dangerous sheriff’s gang known for fabricating evidence and violating community members’ civil rights.
The amicus brief was filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of SJLF’s client and partner, Dignity and Power Now, and in support of an individual represented by the Federal Public Defender’s Office. DPN is a Los Angeles grassroots advocacy group which is led by formerly incarcerated individuals, and which was founded to fight LASD violence against local community members.
Institutions as diverse as Loyola Law School and the Rand Corporation have carefully documented the existence and persistence of these sheriff’s deputy gangs in various substations for the past 50 years. According to these sources—and the substantial additional evidence cited in the amicus brief—deputies are initiated into gangs after committing violent acts like shooting and killing community members, after which they celebrate at local bars. And once in the gangs, deputies display matching tattoos and carryout lawless and discriminatory conduct–terrorizing the community members they are meant to serve.
The amicus brief highlights one example of how deputy gangs inflict injustice on communities. Two deputies, who are members of the Compton station’s so-called Executioners gang, provided the key testimony against a Compton resident who was recently charged with a federal crime. Those deputies gave their testimony just one month after they celebrated shooting and killing a 65-year-old Black man who was biking home in Compton. They became tattooed members of the Executioners gang—a gang with a documented history of fabricating evidence—shortly after shooting this innocent bystander. The amicus brief argues, therefore, that the deputies’ testimony cannot be trusted, and the conviction at issue should be overturned.
As Michael Saavedra, peacekeeping and legal lead for DPN, explained “For years Black and Brown youth have been terrorized, demonized, and criminalized by the sheriffs for being so called ‘gang members.’ Now, the sheriffs themselves—who hold all the power, and are supposed to promote trust and safety in the community—are appropriating Black and Brown culture to violently terrorize the community. The LASD gangs must be abolished.”
SJLF Senior Attorney Claire Simonich wrote the amicus brief, with assistance from Executive Director Shubhra Shivpuri, as well as fellows Amelia Piazza and Emily Olivencia-Audet. To read the full amicus brief, please click here.