Ex-LA County sheriff’s deputies accused of false imprisonment, cowl up after skateboarder injured in 2020 pursuit crash
Miguel Angel Vega, 32, and Christopher Blair Hernandez, 37, each of whom have been deputies assigned to LASD’s Compton station, surrendered to authorities on Thursday morning after being named in a five-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on March 21, in accordance with a information launch from the U.S. Legal professional’s Workplace for the Central District of California. They’re each scheduled to be arraigned later within the day in Los Angeles.
The unsealed indictment expenses Vega and Hernandez with conspiracy, deprivation of rights beneath colour of regulation, witness tampering, and falsification of data, the assertion mentioned. Vega is charged with an extra rely of falsification of data.
The defendants have been on patrol on April 13, 2020, after they “unlawfully detained and falsely imprisoned the then-23-year-old sufferer behind their patrol automobile,” prosecutors mentioned. “The sufferer remained confined behind the automobile throughout a subsequent chase, which ended when Vega crashed, injuring the sufferer.”
The indictment additionally alleges that Vega and Hernandez obstructed justice in a number of methods to hide and canopy up their detention and false imprisonment of the skateboarder.
“Officers who abuse their energy have to be held accountable, and my Workplace is dedicated to prosecuting violations of civil rights by those that violate their oaths and victimize those that they have been sworn to guard,” U.S. Legal professional Martin Estrada mentioned in an announcement.
The incident started at Wilson Park in Compton, the place the person recognized in courtroom paperwork as Jesus Alegria, or J.A. — was in an enclosed skatepark when the deputies arrived and approached two younger males outdoors the skatepark.
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“After J.A. yelled on the deputies to cease bothering the younger males, one or each defendants pulled J.A. by means of a gap within the skatepark fence and confined J.A. behind the patrol automobile,” prosecutors mentioned.
In response to the indictment, the deputies didn’t handcuff Alegria, didn’t fasten his seatbelt, didn’t inform him that he was beneath arrest, and didn’t inform him of his rights.
Vega was driving with patrol automobile, with Hernandez within the entrance passenger seat and Alegria within the again seat, as they left the skate park. Vega allegedly advised the Alegria that the deputies have been going to drop him off in gang territory, the place Hernandez allegedly mentioned the skateboarder can be overwhelmed.
Not removed from the skate park, whereas Alegria was nonetheless confined behind the patrol automobile, Vega initiated a pursuit of a younger man on a bicycle down an alley, the place Vega crashed right into a wall and one other automobile, inflicting Alegria to maintain a minimize above his proper eye, in accordance with the indictment.
After the collision, Vega eliminated Alegria from the patrol automobile and advised him to “get the (expletive) out of right here,” or phrases to that impact, the indictment alleges. The injured man then walked to a close-by residence to hunt assist.
Additionally after the crash, in accordance with prosecutors, Vega reported over LASD radio that an individual purportedly with a gun, whom Vega described as sporting garments much like Alegria apparel that day, had fled by means of the alley close to one hundred and thirtieth Avenue and Mona Boulevard.
The indictment alleges that, despite the fact that Vega additionally reported the crash, neither he nor Hernandez, disclosed that Alegria had been within the patrol automobile throughout the collision.
It was solely after Alegria had been stopped on a neighboring road by different deputies because the purported gun suspect that Vega knowledgeable his supervising sergeant that he had been in Vega’s patrol automobile throughout the crash, prosecutors mentioned, falsely reporting to his supervisor that Alegria had been detained as a result of he was suspected of being beneath the affect of a managed substance.
The conspiracy cost carries a statutory most penalty of 5 years in federal jail, whereas the civil rights offense carries a most sentence of 10 years, if convicted, prosecutors mentioned. The alleged offenses of witness tampering and falsification of data every carry a statutory most sentence of 20 years.
Vega and Hernandez have been additionally concerned within the deadly taking pictures of 18-year-old Andres Guardado in Gardena in June 2020.
In response to the Vega’s account, Guardado reached for a gun, prompting Vega to fireplace six pictures, 5 of which hit Guardado within the again.
Hernandez was current on the time of the taking pictures however didn’t fireplace at Guardado. The incident led to widespread protests, and a wrongful loss of life lawsuit filed by Guardado’s household towards the county was settled final 12 months for $8 million.
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