The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said this week it had begun to review a range of criminal prosecutions connected to the 18 current and former Sheriff’s deputies, sergeants, and lieutenants indicted on federal corruption charges.
"We have begun to check if there are any cases," said D.A. spokeswoman Jane Robison, but declined to provide any additional detail.
Those indicted on allegations they lied in police reports and covered-up excessive force incidents include Sheriff’s investigators whose sworn statements may formed the basis of many other criminal cases outside the scope of the federal investigation.
The District Attorney’s Office may have a legal obligation to contact defendants in these other cases if there are indications the indicted deputies committed other acts of – yet undiscovered – misconduct.
The number of cases that could be in jeopardy is unclear because the District Attorney’s Office no longer allows reporters to query an internal database that tracks cases based on the name of law enforcement officers involved in the prosecution.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is prohibited from reviewing any other possible misconduct involving the indicted deputies until the federal criminal case is completed, according to Sheriff Lee Baca’s spokesman Steve Whitmore.
He said Monday such an investigation by internal affairs had to be delayed because the deputies could not be compelled to make statements that might violate their 5th amendment Constitutional rights in criminal court.
Other police departments, like the Los Angeles Police Department, have traditionally used two independent teams of investigators to examine major misconduct cases to protect the officers’ rights while not running the risk of allowing potential criminal cases to fall out of the statute of limitations before they’re investigated.
Baca skipped an appearance Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meeting at which he was expected to be questioned about the indictments and a Los Angeles Times report that revealed the Sheriff’s Department had hired dozens of deputies with troubled backgrounds and criminal records.
-- Eric Leonard in Downtown L.A.