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Should Sheriff Lee Baca be financially liable for inmate abuse carried out by his officers?
Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca could be on the hook for $100,000 for failing to stop inmate abuse in Men's Central Jail. A federal jury has found Baca personally liable in a deputy use-of-force case, in which plaintiff Tyler Willis alleged that county deputies punched and kicked him in 2009 while he was an inmate.
Last week, the jury returned a verdict in Willis' favor and fined the four defendants -- Deputies Anthony Vasquez, Mark Farino and Pedro Guerrero, Capt. Daniel Cruz and Sheriff Baca -- a total of $165,000 in damages. Baca will pay $100,000 of the amount, with the other three defendants splitting the rest. Sheriff's officials said they will fight the verdict.
This is the first time Baca has been found personally liable for the case, but this is not the first time a law enforcement official has been held liable for what his/her charge has done. Back in 1992, a federal jury fined then-L.A. Police Chief Daryl F. Gates, along with a number of officers, over $44,000 in damages in a deadly shooting case. According to the Times, Gates was stuck with paying close to half of it, which the Los Angeles City Council eventually paid.
Should Sheriff Lee Baca be financially liable for inmate abuse carried out by his officers? Should the County step in and pay on his behalf?
Joanna Schwartz, Assistant Professor of Law, UCLA Law School
Harry Stern, Principal Attorney, Rains Lucia Stern law firm; Stern is based in San Francisco; former police officer