Los Angeles County has dropped a legal action that sought a possible finding of contempt against a former sheriff’s department division chief who allegedly failed to honor a subpoena to testify at a recent Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission hearing on deputy gangs.

Harvinder S. Anand, an attorney for the county, filed court papers Friday asking that the petition brought June 21 regarding ex- Division Chief Matthew Burson be dismissed “without prejudice,” meaning it can be refiled again later. The court papers do not state why the petition is being dropped.

The subpoena required that Matthew Burson be present for the commission’s June 10 session, which was devoted to finding whether deputy cliques exist in the department.

The county also sought an order directing Burson, who retired from the sheriff’s department March 31, to appear at the next commission hearing.

The commission subpoenaed Burson because of an order he issued in 2018 barring the department’s internal criminal investigators from questioning witnesses about what role an internal clique known as the “Banditos” played in brutal deputy-on-deputy assaults at a department party at Kennedy Hall in East Los Angeles.

Burson said in a sworn declaration given in a separate legal action that shortly after Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s 2018 election, he was told by a high-ranking official, speaking on behalf of Villanueva, that investigators should not ask questions about the Banditos.

Burson further said he was told by the same official, as well as the East Los Angeles Station captain at the time, that what happened at Kennedy Hall was “not a big deal” and amounted to “drunken mutual combat,” but that he also wanted to “make it clear that if this was a cover up, I had no idea at the time.”

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