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Excessive-force claims filed against LA County Sheriff's Dept.

March 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Three families are taking the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to court over three separate incidents, claiming their loved ones were victims of excessive force. Two of three alleged victims died. The families and their attorneys held a news conference Wednesday.

The families are alleging abuse of power by the sheriff's department and they say that it's abuse of power, and it's all racially motivated. The sheriff's department is denying the allegations, and says the families and their attorneys are not telling the whole story.

The families packed into a conference room at a law office in Woodland Hills Wednesday. Several members of the three families said the sheriff's department targeted their loved ones because of the color of their skin.

"It's just a consistent pattern of minority shootings by law enforcement," said Darrell Logan Senior.

Logan says L.A. County sheriff's deputies shot and killed his 32-year-old son at his home in Palmdale in October. He says his son, Darrell Logan Junior, was unarmed and was shot more than 40 times by deputies who had responded to a domestic disturbance call.

"He felt like he was being harassed by the sheriff's department all the time," Erica Perez said about her nephew. "He wasn't doing any wrong."

Erica Perez says her nephew Christian Cobian was shot and killed three months ago by sheriff's deputies in Lancaster. Cobian was riding his bicycle when deputies stopped him for riding without a headlight. Investigators say Cobian reached for something in his waist. That's when officers opened fire. But no weapon was ever recovered.

"They have to bring very serious charges against to try to protect these officers," said attorney Brad Gage. "It's part of this whole cover-up."

Gage is the attorney representing both families in claims he has filed against the sheriff's department. He says the sheriff's department is allowing racially motivated police brutality.

"The Antelope Valley is the forgotten child of the Sheriff's Department and it needs to be taken care of," said Gage.

Gage is also representing Marco Chiclana, who he says was beaten by deputies outside Antelope Valley Hospital in December, an incident that was caught on surveillance video.

"Obviously we disagree with this assessment," said L.A. County Sheriff's Spokesman Steve Whitmore. He says each incident is investigated by several outside agencies, and in each case the reactions were justified. He said there is no cover-up.

"Are we hiding anything? Absolutely not. Is there a pattern, are these racially motivated? Unequivocally no. If there be a lesson in anything when you are in contact with law enforcement: Do exactly what law enforcement tells you to do," said Whitmore. "If you do so, all these problems can be avoided."

The legal claims filed by the families Wednesday are precursors to lawsuits. Those lawsuits seek unspecified damages. The sheriff's department says it's looking forward to defending itself in court.