Board Rejects Civilian Watchdog for LASD

The decision comes days after a 54-year-old man was mistakenly shot by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy when an ex-felon allegedly broke into his Pico Rivera home

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A proposed civilian oversight committee to keep tabs on the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department fell flat during a meeting of the Los Angeles County Supervisors. John Cádiz Klemack reports for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. from downtown Los Angeles Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. (Published Tuesday, Aug 5, 2014)

    Los Angeles County Supervisors on Tuesday voted against putting into place a civilian watchdog to oversee the LA County Sheriff's Department because they believe it would have no power.

    The permanent civilian oversight commission was rejected in a 3-2 vote.

    Opponents said such a review board would be powerless given the elected sheriff's authority under state law, while advocates said that even an advisory-only board would give community members a much-needed voice.

    Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina were the proposal's only supporters.

    "There is no accountability," Molina said. "It is clearly a pathway to cover up some of the issues and they embarrass me."

    The meeting prompted activists to rally outside and speak out about what they called injustices by the sheriff's department.

    "I was arrested, I was prosecuted for taking pictures. This is 2014. It's called the First Amendment," Malibu resident Patrice Karst said. "This sheriff's department...they're out of control."

    The decision comes days after a 54-year-old grandfather Frank Mendoza was mistakenly shot Friday by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy when an ex-felon allegedly broke into his Pico Rivera home, officials said.

    "Just over the weekend a person was shot, and there's an investigation going on right now that I don't have access to," LASD Inspector General Max Huntsman said.

    Deputies shot Mendoza believing he was 24-year-old Cedric Ramirez, a parolee barricaded for hours inside Mendoza's home, said Chief Bill McSweeney, of the LASD.

    Ramirez was a parolee under AB 109, the so-called prison realignment plan to cut prison overcrowding, according to the LA County Supervisor's Office.

    The Pico Rivera shooting was second time in four months that a deputy-involved shooting ended with the death of an innocent person. In April, John Winkler was shot and killed by deputies as he ran for help after a stabbing in a West Hollywood apartment complex.

    LA County Interim Sheriff John Scott issued a statement about why Huntsman hasn't been given access to the Pico Rivera shooting investigation.

    "We have formed a committee to establish working guidelines to ensure maximum cooperation and have requested a formal county counsel opinion about legal access to confidential/privileged information," the statement read.

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