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Deputy involved in multiple shootings prompts inquiry

September 20, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy has been involved in seven shootings over 10 years, including a fatal shooting this month. An independent investigator has launched an inquiry into why the deputy was assigned back to the field.

The latest shooting was 10 days ago; a suspect was shot and killed in City Terrace.

"Seven is way outside the norm," said Michael Gennaco, chief attorney for the L.A. County's Office of Independent Review. He was alarmed that after the deputy's history, he was back in the field.

"I thought that this individual had been put inside -- by that I mean taken from field assignment," said Gennaco. "So that's what caused us to do another inquiry to learn how it was that he ends up being out in the field so that number seven could occur."

The shootings go back nearly a decade. The deputy was placed on desk duty after two shootings in 2011.

This week, Gennaco sent a letter to the County Board of Supervisors, Sheriff Lee Baca and several others. He was concerned about the procedure that allowed the deputy to go back to the field. And that the sheriff wasn't consulted.

According to Gennaco's letter, the deputy was working an overtime assignment at the East Los Angeles Station. And apparently the captain at the station was not aware of the deputy's prior shooting history when he authorized it.

"As a result of an executive getting involved, the individual was returned into the field without our knowledge. I don't think the sheriff had any knowledge," said Gennaco.

Gennaco says then-undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who is now running for sheriff, allowed the deputy to go back in the field.

"I ordered him out of the field for two years, and then I had no intention of putting him back until the commanding officer came and asked me this very simple question: 'Would you please consider?'" said Tanaka.

Tanaka says after two years at a desk duty the command staff felt the deputy had shown good conduct.

"I didn't order him to go back out. I just said that if the commanding officer felt that it was appropriate for him to go back in the field after two years of being on the desk, and if there was no other objection, that I would not stop that," said Tanaka.

The deputy is again on desk duty. The District Attorney's Office has reviewed three of the cases and found that the deputy legally acted in self-defense in those shootings. The other incidents, including the latest one, are under review.

Gennaco says he will now meet with Sheriff Baca to try to put a policy in place to stop anything like this from happening again.


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