Crime & Justice

Speeding LA Sheriff’s deputy costs 2 lives, $4 million

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An L.A. County Sheriff's Department badge.
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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday agreed to pay $2 million each to the families of two people killed in a 2013 car crash caused by a sheriff’s deputy.

An investigation by the California Highway Patrol found Sheriff’s Deputy Kamal Jannah was “grossly negligent” when he was speeding with no emergency lights or siren as he approached the intersection of East A Street and 17th in the city of Palmdale. He slammed into a Ford Explorer carrying 31-year-old Robert Delgado and his girlfriend, 20-year-old Sarah Paynter — killing both.

Jannah, who left the department in 2016, was going 57 miles an hour at impact. Neither victim was wearing a seatbelt at the time and they were both thrown from the vehicle. They had been riding in the backseat of the Explorer.

Despite the CHP’s finding, L.A. District Attorney Jackie Lacey did not file criminal charges against Jannah. She said she was unsure she could convict Jannah of gross vehicular manslaughter.

It’s unknown whether the sheriff disciplined the deputy at the time. That process is kept confidential. A spokeswoman would not say why he left the department.

In paying $2 million to the family of each victim, the county admitted no wrongdoing.

“Due to the risks and uncertainties of litigation, a full and final settlement of the case is warranted,” the county counsel wrote in a memo to the board of supervisors.

Paid attorney fees to date have exceeded $370,000, the memo stated.

The deputy was responding to a call from a volunteer with the sheriff’s department who had reported witnessing someone fleeing a possible crime scene. The dispatcher advised that the request was “non-emergent, backup only,” according to the memo.

The memo stated a current review of collision data covering preventable traffic collisions from 2012-2016 revealed the sheriff’s Palmdale station averaged 23 “on-duty preventable traffic collisions each year."