A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a deputy at the Compton Sheriff’s Station who claimed the department put his life in danger when he reported the activities of an alleged deputy gang known as the Executioners.
On Tuesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William F. Fahey granted a motion by lawyers for Los Angeles County to toss Austreberto Gonzalez’s complaint, which alleged disability discrimination, work environment harassment, retaliation, failure to prevent harassment, discrimination or harassment and civil rights violations.
The judge did not give a reason for his ruling. However, the county’s attorneys argued in their court papers that despite listing multiple causes of action in various revisions of his complaint, Gonzalez never precisely explained what happened to him or how any of it was connected to a lawfully protected status or activity.
“The county laid out the legal deficiencies in Mr. Gonzalez’s claims,” said Mira Hashmall, an attorney for the county. “Despite efforts to litigate this case in the press, when it came to the courthouse, he was not able to overcome those legal defects despite multiple amendments.”
Plaintiff’s attorney Alan Romero said he expects the lawsuit to be reinstated.
“The court struck our complaint and entered a dismissal because we filed an amended complaint while a demurrer was pending,” Romero said. “We will immediately be filing a motion to vacate the dismissal.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced in August that it had launched an investigation into allegations that a renegade group of deputies calling themselves the Executioners had taken control of the department’s Compton station through threats, intimidation and harassment.
The announcement came at a news conference in which Sheriff Alex Villanueva and others also said letters ranging from orders of suspension to termination were given to 26 employees involved in a fight two years ago that allegedly also involved members of similar deputy gang.
According to the suit he filed Sept. 17, Gonzalez, a decorated Marine Corps combat veteran, called an anonymous tip line in February to report the “criminal activities of a deputy gang at Compton Station which existed to violate the rights of the public and other Sheriff’s Department employees.”
The department turned over a recording of Gonzalez’s call to the gang, placing the plaintiff in danger, and “took zero steps to curtail the deputy gang,” according to the suit.
Last March, Gonzalez met with LASD investigators and again blew the whistle on the Executioners’ activities, but once more nothing was done, the suit alleged.
Gonzalez later learned that the department had taken several affirmative steps to assist the alleged leader of the deputy gang, Jaime Juarez — who had been previously banned from being on patrol due to his involvement in questionable shootings — to be put back on patrol, according to his court papers.
In addition, Juarez, who had been transferred from the Compton Station due to his alleged gang activity and racketeering, was transferred back to the station by the department, which “created a culture of impunity and violence at the (Compton) Station which had been shaped and enabled by the department,” the suit alleged.
An Executioners associate was promoted to watch deputy, a position for which Gonzalez had tested and deserved because of his seniority, according to the plaintiff, who alleged the position went to the other deputy because he was prohibited from carrying a firearm while on duty and the watch deputy job allowed him to still collect a salary without going out on patrol.
Fearing for his safety and aware of a violent attack by the gang on another station deputy, Gonzalez contacted an attorney to represent him in his disputes with the LASD, according to his lawsuit.
Gonzalez also alleged he suffered discrimination for arranging his work schedule and days off in order to provide medical care for his diabetic daughter.