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Compton leaders call for removal of sheriff’s deputies after man’s beating

Compton resident Dalvin Price receives a hug of support from Compton City Mayor Aja Brown
Compton resident Dalvin Price receives a hug of support from Compton City Mayor Aja Brown at a news conference about his arrest by sheriff’s deputies.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Dalvin Price said he was on his way home from visiting friends on May 31 when he noticed sheriff’s deputies in a patrol car following him.

They approached him as he was walking near Santa Fe and Rosecrans avenues in Compton and told him to get on the ground.

“They didn’t force me to get on the ground — I got on the ground on my own,” Price, 24, told reporters Wednesday. “They told me to stop resisting although I wasn’t resisting. I was trying my best to comply with everything they were saying. However, I was still treated like I didn’t have any rights.”

What happened next was filmed by someone standing nearby. The video shows two deputies on top of Price, who is lying facedown on the pavement.

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“On the ground!” a deputy yells.

“I’m on the ground!” Price responds.

Moments later, a third deputy runs up and begins striking Price with his knee.

“Why y’all beating him?” a woman yells from behind the camera. The deputies then appear to handcuff Price.

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The video sparked outrage in the community and the Compton city leaders have called for the “immediate removal” of the three deputies involved in the incident.

Dalvin Price, right, and his grandmother, Jacqueline Celestine
Dalvin Price and his grandmother, Jacqueline Celestine, at a news conference about his allegedly violent arrest by sheriff’s deputies in Compton.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

At a news conference Wednesday, Compton Mayor Aja Brown joined Price and community members intensified that demand.

“I don’t know where Dalvin was going or coming from. The fact is it doesn’t even matter,” Brown said. “We are tired of dodging sheriff’s cars that have no regard for traffic laws or personal property, being snatched out of our cars, having our vehicles illegally searched, being threatened and intimidated, beaten and in some cases murdered.”

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She and Compton City Atty. Damon Brown sent a letter last week to Sheriff Alex Villanueva saying the deputies’ conduct evoked the death of George Floyd, who was killed when a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee down on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd’s death has led to protests nationwide against police brutality and widespread calls for police reform.

“We will not stand for this violence against our residents or any individual while in our city,” they wrote.

Four officers were fired and charged in Floyd’s killing. Officer Derek Chauvin, who was recorded on video pinning Floyd down by his neck as he pleaded for air, was charged with second-degree murder and the three others at the scene face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

The sheriff’s deputies who encountered Price have not been named.

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Jacqueline Venters, a Compton resident whose son was shot by a deputy in 2011, said that it’s time for law enforcement officers to be held accountable for their actions.

“Everything that they arrest us for they been getting away with,” she said.

Price filed a complaint with Villanueva Tuesday about how he was treated, alleging that two of the deputies kept shouting for him to stop resisting to “mask their unwarranted attack on me by pretending I was actively resisting arrest.”

He said he suffered several injuries, including fractured ribs, and swelling to his head, eye and face. He wrote that he was arrested on suspicion of looting and that later, a charge of assault with a deadly weapon was “mysteriously levied.”

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Price was released on bond two days later, jail records show.

Within hours of his release he wrote in the complaint, three sheriff’s cars cordoned off his street saying they were conducting a registration sweep. “But my uncle’s car was the only vehicle towed away,” he said in the complaint.

Villanueva did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the complaint, but has said previously that the incident in Compton arose after an officer “narrowly escaped being killed by fleeing looters” in a vehicle.

The Sheriff’s Department has said little else about what led up to the beating. When asked about it at a Compton City Council meeting, Capt. La Tonya Clark said the man involved was “part of a looting spree in our city.”

“It wasn’t like the deputies were out there and just selected this person haphazardly in our city,” she said. “I’m not saying that I condone what I saw on the video, by no means at all. And I just want all of you to understand that it is gonna be investigated thoroughly.”

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The woman who recorded the incident said that since doing so, she has been harassed and intimidated. She said her son has been pulled over.

“My life has been turned upside down,” Aja Hall said at the news conference.

Price said in his complaint that had it not been for the recording, “it would now be my word against the officers in an unfair and tilted justice system, clearly predisposed to believing the testimony of those in uniform.”

Price also wrote that a sheriff’s deputy removed a new pair of tennis shoes his girlfriend had bought for him a week earlier from the trunk of his car. He said the deputy put a phone — not his — in the shoes and carried them away.

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“My new shoes have not been returned to me as of yet, and I am fearful of evidence being planted,” he wrote in the complaint.


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