Stafford Taylor was his usual self, vigorous and sharp-minded, when he left a friend’s party late on the Fourth of July.
But sometime later, the 64-year-old Malibu artist and master carpenter was attacked and left wandering Pacific Coast Highway. He didn’t receive medical attention for hours, his family says, because the sheriff’s deputies who picked him up left him at a day laborer’s center. Nearly half a year later, he is still suffering from brain damage and has difficulty speaking.
His family is convinced that deputies thought he was homeless, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Taylor family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Los Angeles County and the Sheriff’s Department this fall, claiming they showed a “deliberate indifference to medical needs.”
The suit alleges that deputies from the Lost Hills station “doomed” Taylor to suffer severe injuries before he was hospitalized, causing damage that will require medical attention for the rest of his life.
“The Sheriff’s Department, or at least certain deputies, are treating people like throwaway people,” said Arnoldo Casillas, the family’s attorney.
Taylor left the Malibu party around 10:30 p.m. At dawn the next day, private security guards at a home near Geoffrey’s restaurant noticed him, half-naked and confused, wandering from car to car. The guards called sheriff’s deputies, who picked up Taylor and dropped him off at the Malibu Community Labor Exchange about five miles away. Taylor had suffered severe head injuries and the incident is still under investigation, sheriff*s officials said.
His wife, Terry, says the deputies must have assumed her husband was homeless.
“How could they not see he needed help?” she said.
The director of the labor exchange, told the Times that several workers have told him that they’ve seen deputies dump people outside the exchange in the past.
It wasn’t until 10:20 a.m. — five hours after deputies left him at the hiring center — that a woman who was waiting to find work called 911. An ambulance transported Taylor, who was semi-conscious, to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he was admitted as “John Doe. His family did not know where he was for 36 hours, according to The Times.
Terry had spent the Fourth of July in the Midwest visiting family, returning two days after the assault to find her husband in a hospital bed with a deep purple bruise ringing his swollen right eye. He could only breathe through a plastic tube inserted into his windpipe. Doctors told her he might die unless part of his skull was removed to alleviate pressure on his brain.
It’s still hard for Terry to believe that it was deputies who left her husband that morning. She ran a preschool in Malibu for years and once had sheriff*s officials come speak to her students.
“I’ve taught young children that we can count on them,” she said.
She credits the undocumented woman who called to get her husband an ambulance that morning for saving his life.
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