Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

Councilman Calls for Investigation After Video Appears to Show Deputies Dropping Off Mentally Ill Man in San Pedro, Driving Off

Officials said the deputies were actually performing a compassionate service since they offered the homeless man a ride to a bus stop until he asked to exit the patrol car.

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino called on the Sheriff's Department Wednesday to investigate a video that appears to show deputies dropping off a mentally ill man on a curb inside the L.A. city limits and driving off.

Buscaino, who represents the San Pedro area, showed the video on the large screen inside the council chamber during the City Council's regular meeting and also posted it to his YouTube and Facebook accounts. The councilman said the man was a "clear 5150 patient" -- the term refers to an involuntary psychiatric hold -- and that the incident occurred a few blocks over the border from Rancho Palos Verdes, which is patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

"This was appalling, disturbing and disgusting, and this individual was taken into LAPD custody two blocks down after a call for service was generated by a San Pedro resident," Buscaino said.

The footage, which was shot Tuesday about 4:30 p.m., shows two parked sheriff's vehicles on West 25th Street in San Pedro. The video begins with the man, who appears disheveled and looks as if he is talking to himself, already standing on the sidewalk near an open door of one of the LASD vehicles, and the person shooting the video from a balcony can be heard saying that the deputies just let the man out of the car.

Sheriff's deputies disagree with the accusations and say they performed an act of compassionate service as they gave him a ride to bus stop to get to Pasadena.

"While en rooute to the bus stop, the individual asked to be released from the car," LASD Captain Darren Harris said. "He no longer wanted to be with the deputies in the car. The deputies had no reason to detain him against his will; he had not committed a crime."

Lt. Alice Norman of the sheriff's Lomita Station said the department was investigating the incident.

Buscaino said the man was arrested after it was determined by the LAPD that he was wanted on an outstanding $412 warrant for evading transit fees.

He also said in a statement on his Facebook account that "now is not the time to pawn off those with mental health issues onto adjacent jurisdictions, but rather, for all cities to step up to the plate and provide housing and services for the homeless immediately."

Buscaino's motion, which was co-introduced by Councilman Mitchell Englander, calls on the LASD to conduct an investigation, and also states that if substantiated, the actions of the deputies jeopardized the safety of residents and resulted in an additional cost to Los Angeles taxpayers.

County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who represents the area, issued a statement saying she was "aware of the video circulating of what appears to be sheriff's deputies dropping off a homeless man with apparent mental health issues in San Pedro. I have asked Sheriff (Jim) McDonnell to investigate the incident. This man clearly needed help and -- regardless of whose jurisdiction it was in -- we should be angry that this man did not get the help he needed." 

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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