Crime & Justice

2 former LA County Sheriff's deputies convicted of beating mentally ill inmate

The Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles on June 8, 2007.
The Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles on June 8, 2007.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Former Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies Bryan Brunsting and Jason Branum were convicted Monday of violating the civil rights of a mentally ill inmate by kicking and pepper spraying the inmate, according to a press release from the United States Attorney's Office.

Brunsting, 31 and Branum, 35 (also known as Jason Johnson) were both found guilty of three felony counts after one hour of deliberation by the jury. They're the latest to be convicted in a series of cases related to an investigation into corruption and civil rights abuses at county jail facilities in downtown L.A. To date, 21 current or former members of the Sheriff's Department have been convicted.

The convictions of Brunsting and Branum were for conspiracy to violate civil rights, deprivation of civil rights with bodily injury and falsification of records for preparing reports that tried to justify their use of force against the victim. The March 22, 2010 beating was in response to the inmate showing disrespect to a jail employee, according to the release.

"The civil rights in the Constitution are guaranteed to everyone in the United States, even those who are being held in jail," United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker siad in the release.

The inmate "mouth-off" to a civilian Sheriff's Department employee, according to the release. Brunsting was a training officer assigned to a rookie deputy and told the trainee they were going to "teach [the inmate] a lesson."

Brunsting, Branum and the rookie deputy brought the inmate out of the visiting area and directed him to a locked hallway without surveillance cameras, according to the release. 

"Once in the hallway, the inmate realized he was going to be assaulted and began to run," the release said. "The victim was tackled. Brunsting and Branum then beat the victim with fists, kicked him in the genitals and sprayed him in the eyes with pepper spray. Once other deputies arrived, they instructed the rookie deputy to handcuff the victim before he was led away for medical treatment."

Brunsting, Branum and the rookie deputy allegedly met after beating the inmate to falsify their stories, according to the release, with the rookie deputy testifying that he was told what to say and put in his report.

Brunsting and Branum are scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 22. They each face statutory maximums of 40 years in federal prison.

Brunsting also still faces civil rights charges from another alleged use-of-force incident on Aug. 20, 2009 at the prison. He is scheduled to go to trial later this year.