A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who was accused of assaulting three jail inmates in Compton and Los Angeles was acquitted Monday of the last remaining felony charge against him.
Jurors initially announced they were deadlocked on the final count against 38-year-old Jermaine W. Jackson. But by the time the lawyers made it to the courthouse, the panel had reached a consensus of not guilty on the final felony count of assault by a public officer.
In all, Jackson was acquitted of three felony counts each of assault likely to cause great bodily injury, assault by a public officer and filing a false report. He was convicted of three counts of simple assault.
He is set to be sentenced on June 6.
“We feel that Jermaine Jackson was sort of made a scapegoat for all of the failings of the Sheriff’s Department,” defense attorney Richard Hirsch told City News Service outside court.
“Because of a lack of training” and because of approvals he received from superiors, “he was led to believe that certain ways of dealing with inmates were OK,” Hirsch said.
Deputy District Attorney Ann Marie Wise told CNS that one “clear read” she and Hirsch got from talking to three jurors in the case was that they “did not like that the use of force had been approved previously and then retroactively, he’s told that it was inappropriate and charged criminally.”
Jackson said of the message he got from the Sheriff’s Department: “It was clear and then, now it’s not.”
Hirsch said the three misdemeanor convictions were “inconsistent” with jurors’ other findings and that he planned to file a motion for a new trial.
Wise focused on the acquittals, saying, “Despite the increase in public awareness of police abuse, this shows just how difficult it can be to secure a conviction against a member of law enforcement.”
Jackson was accused of assaulting three inmates — Cesar Campana, Derek Griscavage and Jonathan Murray — in separate incidents between 2009 and 2011.
During the trial, Jackson took the stand and admitted to punching Murray in the eye when “he tried to kick me in the groin.”
Jackson also agreed that he punched Campana in the ear and kicked him in the head, saying that was the only way he could control the inmate.
Griscavage head-butted the deputy during a physical encounter, Jackson said.
Jurors convicted Jackson last week of misdemeanor charges involving his interactions with Campana and Griscavage and acquitted him of all counts involving Murray.
Defense attorney Vicki Podberesky argued during the trial that Jackson used reasonable force to protect himself and others, but Wise contended that Jackson “likes to use his fists.”
“Deputy Jackson solves problems in the jail with his fists” and then “filed false reports … to justify his actions,” Wise argued.
Podberesky showed jurors a chart with a sheriff’s department logo illustrating the range of legally defensible options in dealing with inmates, depending on whether they are cooperative or assaultive.
The chart advises deputies dealing with assaultive inmates that they have several options, including using a Taser, a K-9 partner, carotid restraint or choking, less lethal weapons and “personal weapons,” like fists.
Hirsch told jurors that Jackson worked in the mental health section of the jail “with inmates who were violent, unpredictable” and suffered from psychotic episodes when they failed to take their medication.
Jackson had been relieved of duty without pay by the sheriff’s department.
He is facing a maximum sentence of between one year and 18 months, depending on how the misdemeanor convictions are interpreted at sentencing, according to Wise.
— Wire reports