7 of every 10 bike stops by L.A. sheriff’s deputies involve Latino cyclists

An illustration of bicycles
Cyclists in poorer communities with large nonwhite populations are stopped and searched far more often than those in more affluent, whiter parts of the county.
(Steven Banks)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Nov. 8. I’m Justin Ray.

Los Angeles Times reporters Alene Tchekmedyian and Ben Poston recently published a stunning exposé about bike stops.

An analysis of more than 44,000 bike stops logged by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department since 2017 found that 7 of every 10 stops involved Latino cyclists. Additionally, bikers in poorer communities with large nonwhite populations are stopped and searched far more often than those in more affluent, whiter parts of the county.

What did those stops yield? During searches, deputies find illegal items just 8% of the time, The Times’ analysis showed. Weapons were seized just 164 times — less than half a percent of all searches.


“It’s just another version of stop and frisk,” said Tamika Butler, former head of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, referring to the New York City Police Department’s practice of patting down Latinos and Black people. The NYPD tactic, now defunct, was found to have violated people’s civil rights.

Sheriff’s officials defended the use of bike stops as a necessary and legitimate tool to fight crime, arguing that criminals use bikes to evade detection. The low rates of success uncovering drugs or other contraband while searching bicyclists “do not raise serious questions,” a department spokeswoman told The Times.

The Times’ investigation reveals other issues such as the eyebrow-raising conversations bicyclists have had with law enforcement during stops. We also have graphs and illustrations showing the areas where stops took place.

Here are two other accompanying stories:

  • Bicyclists share stories of being stopped by L.A. County deputies. These incidents rarely garner headlines, but they occur thousands of times a year. Although the vast majority do not lead to bloodshed, riders and biking advocates say the practice contributes to the erosion of trust people have in law enforcement while doing little for public safety. Here are a few cyclists’ stories of being stopped, including one who said deputies once mistook him for someone they were after: “some Latino male riding a bike.”
  • Sheriff’s Department bike stops: How we reported the story. Want to know how a reporter uncovers such an important story? We explain how data from a public records request gave us a solid picture of the matter. We also explain some of the methodology behind the numbers we present in the investigation.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.

State numbers show that California has 1.4 million unemployed residents, but a new study highlights people who can’t find jobs that pay above poverty level. When that population is included, the number is three times higher — 4.8 million. The analysis by the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity, an organization focused on studying the economic well-being of middle- and lower-income Americans, found 25.7% of California workers are functionally unemployed, meaning they are seeking, but cannot find full-time employment paying above the poverty level. CalMatters



In a U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles, British-born actor Esmé Bianco is waging a legal battle to prove that Marilyn Manson really is the menacing person he has portrayed in music videos and public appearances for decades. Bianco’s federal suit, filed April 30, alleges sexual assault, sexual battery and human trafficking beginning in February 2009, when Manson flew her to L.A. to shoot a music video. Documents reveal allegations of forced labor, sleep deprivation and rape. Manson, whose legal name is Brian Hugh Warner, has said the claims are “horrible distortions of reality.” Los Angeles Times

An LAPD-caused explosion cost them their home. After months of limbo, they went to the desert. A violent explosion — courtesy of a huge cache of fireworks and an ill-conceived LAPD operation that injured people and damaged homes — forced a family to live in the western Mojave Desert. “It was the last option we had. Get the house and move far away,” said Juana Oceguera, a mother of five. “We have to start over again.” They were unable to find housing they could afford in the city. The explosion’s aftermath underscored a painful truth about life in sprawling, expensive Los Angeles: Formerly working-class neighborhoods are rapidly gentrifying as the population grows but the available housing stock does not. Los Angeles Times

Juana Oceguera, 41, packs items in her apartment.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Our daily news podcast

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Private jets hired by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to transport immigrant detainees have been involved in dangerous incidents. Thousands of pages of government documents analyzed by Capital & Main show that problems persisted and flights continued. “Private companies operate the planes out of remote airports and secluded runways where they are cloaked in secrecy. But ICE’s own records show that the agency has long pleaded with its contractors to address poor upkeep of planes and insufficient training, which have injured immigrant detainees, guards and crew,” according to the report. Capital and Main


An Orange County judge ruled that a man accused of carrying out a mass shooting at a real estate office in Orange is not competent to stand trial due to injuries he sustained during a shootout with police. Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez is “unable to communicate or understand the court proceedings,” the Orange County Register reported. The criminal proceedings against Gonzalez will remain indefinitely suspended as he receives treatment. Should he later be found competent, the criminal case could resume. But the likelihood of him recovering enough to ever stand trial is unclear. Gonzalez was charged with special-circumstances murder in the killings of Jenevieve Raygoza, 28; Luis Tovar, 50; Leticia Solis Guzman, 58; and Matthew Farias, 9 after the March 31 shootings. OC Register

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In the age of megafires, Long Beach firefighters battle blazes across the West. As the drought-stricken state continues to burn, more and more firefighters are being asked to trade their normal routine of house fires and car wrecks for raging infernos tearing through rural communities. Wildfires have exploded in size over the past decade, leading state and federal agencies to lean more on local fire departments for help. This in turn puts more stress on those departments. For instance, during the height of wildfire season in late August, Long Beach’s firefighting resources were completely maxed out. Long Beach Post

Here are the top crops in each California county. Which regions have the highest value crops in the state? The San Francisco Chronicle has an interactive map showing just that. The paper examined the top crop (defined by its production value) for each county to understand which crops predominate in each region. Almonds are one of California’s signature crops, with statewide production valued at $5.6 billion in 2020, according to data from the state Department of Food and Agriculture. San Francisco Chronicle


A 34-year-old man died last week after falling 70 feet from a zip line on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in northeastern San Diego County, authorities said. The man was identified as Joaquin Romero. He lived in Banning in Riverside County and worked at La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline on the reservation off state Route 76, authorities said. Romero was helping a woman get hooked onto the platform when she started sliding out on the zip line. He was unable to stop her and grabbed onto her harness, causing them to slide out farther. Romero fell and suffered blunt-force injuries, according to the medical examiner’s office and Cal Fire Capt. Frank LoCoco. San Diego Union-Tribune

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Los Angeles: 70 San Diego: 68 San Francisco: Listen to this dog talk about how I feel about Mondays (turn your sound down). 61 San Jose: Cloudy 66 Fresno: 65 Sacramento: 62


Hollywood birthdays

Rapper Eve was born Nov. 10, 1978. The Times recently talked to her about “Queens,” a new ABC series.

Brittany Murphy was born Nov. 10, 1977. An HBO Max documentary discussed the late actor’s career and curious death.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

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