Crime & Justice

2 LA County deputies convicted of jail beating get prison

File: Former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca conducts an inspection of Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles in this photo from December 2011.
File: Former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca conducts an inspection of Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles in this photo from December 2011.
Grant Slater/KPCC

Two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies convicted of beating a jail inmate and falsifying records to hide the abuse have been sentenced to federal prison terms, according to a press release from the United States Attorney's Office.

Bryan Brunsting, 32, was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison, while Jason Branum, 36, was given five months behind bars. Both were allowed to remain free pending an appeal.

The deputies were among more than 20 current or former sheriff's employees charged in connection with a probe of corruption and abuse in the Sheriff's Department.

The inmate was allegedly beaten, kicked in the genitals and pepper sprayed in an attack that took place March 22, 2010. Prosecutors said the men beat the inmate because he showed them disrespect in front of a trainee at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility.

The deputies allegedly told the trainee they were going to "teach [the inmate] a lesson." Prosecutors say that Brunsting, Branum and the trainee then took the inmate to a locked hallway without surveillance cameras, where the beating took place.

Brunsting, Branum and the rookie deputy then met to "coordinate and falsify their stories," according to the statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office, with the rookie deputy testifying he was told what to say and how to write his report. Brunsting and the rookie deputy's reports were described as "strikingly similar."

"Both defendants engaged in a vicious, premeditated assault on an inmate," U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker said in a statement. "Deputy Brunsting’s conduct was even more egregious given that he was involved in the abuse of a second inmate, and he was training new deputies on how to violate inmates’ civil rights and get away with it."

A jury in May found Brunsting and Branum guilty of three charges apiece including conspiracy to violate civil rights. Brunsting reached an agreement with prosecutors following the trial to admit his role in a use-of-force incident at the same facility on Aug. 20, 2009.

"Both incidents show that defendant’s need for ‘respect’ from inmates was above anyone’s need for justice," prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo.

This story has been updated.