The LA County Deputy at the center of a legal dispute between the sheriff and the county supervisors says he’s not a monster and never physically harmed an ex-girlfriend.
Deputy Caren "Carl" Mandoyan, who was reinstated shortly after Sheriff Alex Villanueva took office, has been at the heart of a legal battle branching from a dispute over whether the sheriff has the power to rehire him.
He spoke to NBC4's I-Team for the first time publicly Thursday, saying he's grateful to have his job back, but upset and frustrated that he’s in the middle of a political fight, and hasn’t been able to tell his side of the story.
Mandoyan said he was falsely accused of domestic violence, and wants to clear his name.
"My character has been assassinated. It’s not who I am," he said.
Mandoyan has denied he attacked his ex-girlfriend, who is a former LA County Sheriff's deputy, during an argument in 2014.
A Sheriff's memo obtained by NBC4 details the allegations made by his ex, who claimed Mandoyan choked her during a domestic dispute in El Segundo. The woman said Mandoyan kicked in the door of her bathroom after she'd locked herself inside to try to get away.
The female deputy applied for an emergency restraining order several months later after she said Mandoyan later tried to break in to her house. The order was dropped after neither the woman nor Mandoyan appeared for a hearing, according to the court staff.
"That never occurred," Mandoyan said in an interview Thursday, referencing the allegations.
He said he regrets staying in a verbally volatile relationship, but did nothing wrong.
"It would just escalate where she would curse at me and I would yell back and curse at her. It was nothing more than a heated couples argument - never physical," he said.
He said cellphone video the former girlfriend provided that’s now become public and appears to show Mandoyan trying to break-in to her apartment in El Segundo isn’t quite what it appears.
"I was trying to get her attention to let me back in. I had a plastic broomstick. I was tapping on the glass," he said.
He said the text messages he and the ex girlfriend exchanged later that night shows the incident wasn’t serious, and there was no violence.
You can see texts reading "I love you!" and a response of "I love u..." follows.
"I knocked and said, 'Can you please let me in? I don't want to argue.' And she let me back in," he said.
Mandoyan is now at the center of a legal fight over whether the sheriff has the authority to re-hire someone fired by the county, as Mandoyan was in 2016 after the county’s civil service commission decided he wasn’t telling the truth about what happened in that video.
County supervisors asked for a legal review of the reinstatement.
Sheriff Villanueva says he believes Mandoyan deserves his job and says the release of those video clips may be misleading.
"There’s a lot more going on that has not been divulged publicly," Villanueva said.
The unresolved legal standoff between the sheriff and the supervisors won’t be heard in court until June.
Until then, Mandoyan said he’s going to work as a deputy, even though the county has cut off his pay.
NBC4 has not been able to reach his former girlfriend for comment.