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Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy found drunk in tamale vendor’s car, authorities say

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department veteran has been placed on leave after he was found drunk in a tamale vendor's car and was disarmed by bystanders, officials said.

A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department veteran has been placed on leave after he was found drunk in a tamale vendor’s car and was disarmed by bystanders, officials said.

(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)

A 16-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been placed on leave after he got drunk, sat in the front of a tamale vendor’s car and was disarmed by bystanders, authorities said.

The deputy, whose name was not released by authorities, was relieved of duty with pay Wednesday as sheriff’s officials moved forward with an administrative investigation, sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said.

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The deputy, who was off-duty at the time, was briefly detained about 1:11 a.m. May 2 by Sacramento police.

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He was visiting the area to attend law enforcement memorial events that were scheduled that week, said Sgt. Bryce Heinlein, a Sacramento Police Department spokesman.

The deputy was reportedly intoxicated when he entered an open front passenger door of a parked car and sat there. The car belonged to a vendor who was selling tamales in the 1400 block of R Street in downtown Sacramento, he said.

Two people associated with the car tried to remove the off-duty deputy from the vehicle.

As they tried to take him out of the car, they spotted a firearm on the deputy and disarmed him. Eventually, the deputy walked away and was later detained by police.

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“There was no indication that the weapon was displayed or used in the commission of any crime,” Heinlein said.

Sacramento police took possession of the firearm and immediately notified L.A. County sheriff’s officials about the incident.

That’s when the deputy’s supervisor responded, took the gun and escorted him back to the hotel.

Sacramento police are assisting the sheriff’s department with their investigation.

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Officers don’t always arrest intoxicated people, and most don’t go to jail, Heinlein said.

“Officers use their discretion, weighing the options that are available to them to the circumstances they are presented with in each incident,” he said.

Officers can choose to take an intoxicated person to a hospital, a detox facility, jail or release them to a friend or family member.

In this case, Heinlein said the deputy’s conduct “is not in line with the standards of our profession.”

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