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Los Angeles jail violence victim speaks out: ABC7 exclusive

An alleged victim of jail violence speaks exclusively to Eyewitness News about his lawsuit against L.A. County deputies.
January 9, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
In March 2011, Lawrence Davis got into a fight with another inmate at Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail. Deputies broke up the fight in less than a minute, but what happened after that has led to a lawsuit against Sheriff Lee Baca and at least five of his deputies.

Davis claims in a lawsuit that deputies carved, or permitted the carving of the letters "MY" into Davis' head when he was knocked unconscious while in custody. "MY" are the first two letters of a Spanish language slur directed at African Americans.

"I couldn't do this to somebody and for it to not be called a hate crime," said Davis.

While he was being held in the Men's Central Jail infirmary, a "use of force" investigation was conducted by deputies, who recorded an interview with Davis and the injuries he sustained during the confrontation. The deputy conducting the interview on tape admitted twice that he was at the altercation.

On the tape, Davis says, "I was screaming, 'Please, stop!'"

The deputy then asked, "Were you aware that I was there while they were trying to handcuff you?"

Davis replies, "I was quite sure you were there because when I did look up, I saw you standing there."

During the taped interview at the Men's Central Jail infirmary, there was no mention of "MY" being scratched into Davis' head.

The deputy says on the tape, "I just want to make note that inmate Davis has a contusion or abrasion on top of his head on the left side."

But when Davis was transported to County USC Medical Center, Dr. David Williams documented the markings. In his deposition, Dr. Williams said, "On physical examination, I was concerned when I had seen abrasions to the side of his head that appeared as though somebody had scraped letters or written words on the side of his head. I considered that a very abnormal injury pattern for our patients."

Davis' attorney, Steven A. Silverstein, said the doctor insisted that pictures be taken at the hospital. Silverstein said if that didn't happen, "this would have been over and done and this man would have no rights whatsoever."

One of the named defendants, Deputy Armando Diaz, has also been deposed and said under oath he never saw "MY" scratched into Davis' head. L.A. County Sherriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore denies the allegations made in the lawsuit.

"They noticed bruising, yes. They noticed the results of OC spray, yes. That was all used. This was a violent inmate. He had to be contained and he was. But this marking, if you will, this faint marking, wasn't noticed by anybody," said Whitmore.

But when looking closely at the interview by deputies before Davis was taken to the hospital, Silverstein believes "MY" can already be seen.

Davis admits to a long criminal history that includes forgery and drug charges, but adds that his offenses have always been non-violent. He has also been interviewed by the FBI regarding these allegations.

"These guys should get arrested, convicted, and jailed and have to deal with guards themselves. That's where they should be," said Silverstein.

None of the deputies involved in this lawsuit have been charged with any crimes. When we contacted the FBI, we were told the investigation of the jail is ongoing and they are not able to comment on specific details.


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