Third L.A. County probation officer charged with beating teen inmates at Sylmar facility
A third Los Angeles County probation official has been charged with beating teenage inmates inside a Sylmar juvenile hall last year, prosecutors said.
Deputy Probation Officer Carlos Portillo pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault under color of authority on Monday in connection with a pair of clashes at the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in 2016, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. One of the incidents was captured on video and leaked last year to a local blog, prompting an internal investigation of other potential assaults at the jail.
Portillo, 39, faces up to four years and four months in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.
Portillo and another probation officer are accused of pummeling a 17-year-old inmate at the behest of a supervisor in April 2016. Supervisor Sergio Cano, 45, and Officer Timothy Boundy, 42, were also charged with assault under color of authority in that case.
Prosecutors allege Cano ordered Portillo and Boundy to attack the inmate.
Portillo and Boundy are also accused of battering a teen who tried to leave his room in the facility in February of 2016. Boundy faces a third assault charge stemming from an incident in October 2015. Prosecutors allege he grabbed a teen and hurled him to the ground.
“The probation officers charged in this case were entrusted with the safekeeping and well-being of youths while in their custody,” Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey said in a statement. “Sadly, in this instance, we believe the defendants abused their authority and broke the law.”
Boundy and Cano have also pleaded not guilty.
In the April 2016 incident, Cano’s attorney has said that the teen inmate was “being disruptive” and had acted violently toward probation officers earlier in the day.
The case drew the concern of county officials last summer, after the blog WitnessLA obtained a video of the incident. The blog did not publish the footage, but said the video showed four officers pummeling a “non-combative” 17-year-old.
The incident prompted a review of force used by officers at the juvenile hall, according to the probation department. Seven officers faced administrative punishments after the review found they had used force inappropriately. Two officers were fired in connection with the videotaped beating. A spokeswoman for the probation department declined to identify them.
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