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TimesOC: Orange County maskless deputy recorded on video saying masks are ‘stupid’

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TimesOC, a newsletter about Orange County, is published Wednesdays and Fridays.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning and welcome to the TimesOC newsletter.

It’s Friday, April 23. I’m Ben Brazil on rotation with my colleagues, editors John Canalis and Carol Cormaci, to bring you the latest roundup of Orange County news and events.

An Orange County sheriff’s deputy was caught on video this week disparaging face masks and calling the police officer who killed George Floyd a “dummy,” not a murderer.

Reporter Lila Seidman wrote that a deputy wearing the nametag “P. Medeiros,” was seen in a video posted to social media unmasked at a Gelson’s supermarket. The deputy had been called to the scene after employees had called about an unmasked group of shoppers.

The deputy appeared to side with the unmasked people, saying that the company’s policy requiring masks was “stupid.”

The group of unmasked people then asked the deputy what he thought of the murder conviction of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd. The deputy said: Chauvin was “a dummy, but murderer? No.”

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Braun told Seidman that the department is opening a personnel investigation on the matter, and the deputy will remain on duty during it.

“The opinions expressed by the deputy are his personal opinion and are not representative of the opinions of the department or the sheriff,” Braun said to Seidman in an email.

Another issue reported this week related to the sheriff’s department was the findings of a UCLA research team that found that Black and Latino people make up the majority of Orange County jail bookings between 2010 and 2018.

Latino and Black people account for about 47% and 7% of jail bookings despite making up about 35% and 2% of the county’s population, respectively. This indicates “significant racial disparities,” the study said.

“We know that the carceral system is really built as a part of the system of oppression, and that is reflected in the data,” said Sarah Kahn, a UC Irvine law student and member of Transforming Justice OC. “Unsurprisingly, people of color are disproportionately targeted and persecuted by this system.”

Transforming Justice OC had contacted the UCLA research team, Million Dollar Hoods, to conduct the study in order to educate the public on what is going on inside Orange County jails.

Another finding of the report is that charges related to substance use accounted for about 32% of all the jail bookings between 2010 and 2018. Driving under the influence and drug possession were among the three most common charges. Though women made up about 21% of the bookings, they accounted for about 38% of the bookings for charges related to substance use. The report said this indicates a “significant gender disparity.”

In response to a request for comment on the issue, Braun said that “it is the responsibility of the Sheriff’s Department to provide care for those in our custody, but it is all Orange County law enforcement agencies and the Courts that determine who come to the jail and how long they stay.”

An Orange County sheriff’s deputy watches over a group of detained immigrants in the medical area at the Theo Lacy Facility.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

NEWS

— The nonprofit Children’s Bureau is offering virtual programs for families in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month. A free event next week will include games and activities aimed at family bonding.

— The LGBTQ Center Orange County is celebrating its 50-year anniversary. The center has evolved over the years, and is aiming to offer more services directed toward LGBTQ people of color, immigrants and seniors.

— An Orange County man was charged with elder abuse and hate crimes after allegedly attacking a Korean couple in a park last week. The man pleaded not guilty to all counts.

— A federal judge stated in court this week that an undocumented immigrant accused of gun and drug crimes shouldn’t be in custody.

— A Costa Mesa man was sentenced to 180 days in jail and two years of probation for beating a transgender woman with a skateboard. The man was arrested last month after he also shouted homophobic remarks at the transgender woman.

— Laguna Beach is planning to start a Leave No Trace campaign to encourage the public to take care of the environment.

— Aviation enthusiasts and remote-control aircraft fliers are at odds with the city of Costa Mesa as a park that once was used by the hobbyists is now off-limits. The city is updating the site’s master plan and considering whether hobby planes and drones should be used in the park.

— Bob Johnson, an Orange County historian and civil rights pioneer, passed away. He was 88 years old.

SPORTS

— The Corona del Mar girls’ basketball team defeated Newport Harbor, handing them their first loss of the season.

— The Fountain Valley boys’ tennis team defeated Corona del Mar, possibly for the first time in the school’s history.

— Reporter Jack Harris wrote that Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani is a talented player, but he needs to improve on his command.

LIFE AND LEISURE

— A Huntington Beach resident and restaurant owner is bringing three new eateries to Huntington State Beach over the next year.

OPINION

— B.W. Cook returns with his society column after a year away.