A former deputy in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has been indicted on federal charges that he helped cover up the beating of a handcuffed man by other deputies in a county jail, the U.S. attorney's office announced Friday.
The unexpected charges, which come months after the other deputies accused in the case were convicted and more than four years after the 2011 beating, make clear that a long-running investigation by the FBI and U.S. attorney's office into allegations of abusive deputies in the county jails continues.
A grand jury indicted Byron Dredd, 33, who no longer works for the Sheriff's Department.
He faces three counts of wrongdoing stemming from allegations that he fabricated a report about the beating that attempted to place the blame on the victim and later lied about the incident to FBI agents.
FOR THE RECORD:
Jail beating case: In the Oct. 17 California section, an article about the indictment of a former sheriff's deputy accused of helping to cover up a jailhouse beating misspelled the name of the federal prosecutor in the case. She is Lizabeth Rhodes, not Elizabeth. —
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Dredd, who could not be reached for comment, is expected to be arraigned in coming weeks, according to a statement released by U.S. Atty. Eileen Decker.
The charges against Dredd arise from the February 2011 beating of Gabriel Carrillo, who had come with his then-girlfriend and grandmother to visit his brother, an inmate in the county's main jail facility.
Carrillo and his girlfriend were handcuffed and taken into custody after deputies allegedly found them carrying cellphones, which is against state law. After Carrillo reportedly mouthed off repeatedly to the deputies in a secluded room, he was punched, kicked and pepper-sprayed in the face.
After the beating, which left Carrillo badly bloodied and bruised, the deputies and their supervisor claimed in the reports that when one of Carrillo's hands was uncuffed for fingerprinting, he attacked and tried to escape.
Based on those reports, Carrillo was brought up on criminal charges. After Carrillo's attorney brought to light photographs showing injuries to both of Carrillo's wrists, corroborating his assertion that he was handcuffed during the beating, prosecutors from the county district attorney's office dropped the charges.
In June, two deputies, Sussie Ayala and Fernando Luviano, along with Eric Gonzalez, their supervisor at the jail visitor center, were convicted of the beating and coverup. The trial featured testimony from two other deputies who had faced charges but struck deals with prosecutors.
Dredd's name and alleged role in the case did not come up in the trial.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Elizabeth Rhodes declined to comment on the case against Dredd and why he was not included in the earlier prosecution.
The indictment against Dredd, released Friday, makes clear that investigators were well aware of Dredd as they were building their case.
Dredd, according to the indictment, lied to FBI agents during an interview in July 2012, when he told them Carrillo had "swung at" Luviano, then tried to escape. Dredd made the same claims in the report he wrote at the time of the beating, the indictment said.
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Carrillo's attorney, Ron Kaye, said he was pleased to see prosecutors were continuing to go after deputies in the case, adding that the new charges underscore how a culture had taken root in the jails that allowed "deputies who beat people and fabricated evidence to act with impunity."
The case is one of several to arise from a sweeping federal investigation in the jails under former Sheriff Lee Baca, who resigned last year amid the upheaval.
Other deputies are awaiting trial in two separate jail abuse cases, and prosecutors have won several convictions against deputies and higher-ranking officials for attempting to obstruct the federal investigation.
Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who was the second-highest-ranking official in the agency before resigning, was indicted on obstruction charges this year.
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