The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to pay out $200,000 to a jail inmate who claimed he was beaten by two sheriff’s deputies even as he lay on the floor motionless.
The January 2011 incident inside Twin Towers jail was one of the first high-profile cases that led to public scrutiny of Sheriff Lee Baca’s jails, and an eventual jail abuse scandal that’s led to widespread reforms. James Parker’s allegations were bolstered by an American Civil Liberties Union monitor who happened to witness the incident and said she saw the deputies beat Parker for two minutes even though he appeared to be unconscious.
Even though the prisoner wasn’t resisting, the ACLU monitor said, the two deputies continued to beat him as he lay motionless on the floor "like he was a mannequin." After the ACLU monitor went public with her allegations, the FBI confirmed that it was investigating the alleged beating.
An FBI spokeswoman said that probe and the bureau’s widespread investigation of jailhouse misconduct are pending.
The deputies involved in the incident described Parker as the initial aggressor, saying that even when they finally got him to the floor, he continued to swing his elbows and tried to push himself up.
The initial prosecution of Parker ended in a hung jury, which leaned in favor of acquitting the Twin Towers inmate. Later, he pleaded no contest to resisting a deputy. The other two charges -- battery with injury on a peace officer and resisting a peace officer with serious bodily injury -- were dropped.
At the time, Parker’s criminal attorney said he pleaded to the charge so he could get the matter behind him, and get out of jail.