Los Angeles/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on April 13, 2024
Los Angeles Probation Officers on Leave After Teen Attack at Downey Juvenile Hall, Overhaul OrderedSource: Google Street View

Shocking surveillance footage has surfaced depicting the moment several Los Angeles County probation officers allegedly stood by as a teenager was brutally attacked by other detainees at the Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey. ABC7 reported that the video, which shows a 17-year-old victim being punched and kicked by peers on December 22, 2023, raised alarm about the conduct of officers on duty. One officer was seen intervening sporadically, but with what appeared to be a smile or laughter.

The statement issued by LA County Probation Chief Guillermo Viera Rosa confirmed that immediate action was taken following the release of the video. "Now that the video has been released in the media, it should be abundantly clear why I felt compelled to take swift action once this incident was brought to my attention," Viera Rosa said. Eight officers have been placed on leave pending an investigation, which has been handed over to an external law enforcement agency for impartiality.

The fallout from the incident includes concerns regarding internal protocols and reporting systems. Unsatisfied with the level of internal reporting, Viera Rosa has been authorized by the Board of Supervisors to reorganize Internal Affairs to ensure a fair, thorough, and prompt response to such incidents. "We will not tolerate misconduct like that depicted in the video, nor will we tolerate a lack of urgent response, if and when these incidents happen," he remarked in the statement.

The report by ABC7 also detailed accusations from the victim's attorney, Sherrie Albin, presented during a court hearing. Albin alleged that one of the probation officers "instigated" the attacks by informing other youths that the 17-year-old was a racist, based on his gang affiliation and where he lived. Following the incident, the teen reportedly endured days without medical treatment for a broken nose. His family has since filed a damages claim against the county.

Despite these allegations, the California Board of State and Community Corrections decided to reverse a previous unsuitability finding for Los Padrinos and the Barry J. Nidorf Secure Youth Treatment Facility, which had been criticized for staff and safety inadequacies. This decision skirted the need to shut down the facilities next week, which would have been mandated had the unsuitability status not been rescinded.