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December 7, 2022 54 mins

Most people think of Los Angeles as a progressive county. But the Antelope Valley has a long history of white supremacist violence, sometimes helped along by deputy gangs.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department issued this statement following the swearing in of Robert G. Luna: "In his inauguration speech on Saturday, Sheriff Robert Luna reaffirmed his commitment to eradicating deputy gangs from the Department, and stated that under his leadership, the Department will be guided by three overriding principles: integrity, accountability and collaboration. https://youtu.be/uxiH_fLtHwo

Earlier today (12/6/2022), he welcomed the Inspector General back to restore appropriate oversight at the Department.

https://lasd.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Transparency_BOS_letter_COC_Luna.pdf

In the weeks and months ahead, you'll hear more from the Sheriff about how the department will implement his zero-tolerance policy on deputy gangs.”

A Tradition of Violence is hosted and executive produced by Cerise Castle. She's an award winning journalist who wrote the first ever history of deputy gangs for Knock LA, available at lasdgangs.com

Music by Yelohill and Steelz.

For breaking news and updates on deputy gangs, follow @lasdgangs on social media.

To support Cerise’s reporting, and for exclusive bonus content, subscribe to the patreon.com/lasdgangs

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Morning. This podcast contains explicit language and details acts of violence.
Listener discretion is advised. Los Angeles County has a reputation
for being a pretty progressive area, but that's not really
the case, especially up north. The Antelope Valley, which makes
up the northern part of the county, is very desolate.

(00:21):
To get there from the city, you need to take
a winding highway through jagged mountains on one of the
most dangerous freeways in the state. On the other side,
miles of desert with relatively new suburbs roll on and on.
From eighteen fifty to nineteen fifty, the Antelope Valley was
a sleepy collection of small towns around the hubs of

(00:42):
Palmdale and Lancaster. The population was nearly nine white. Black
families were relegated to the Sun Valley area because of
racist redlining, but in the nineteen eighties, demographics changed. In
that decade, the a v's growth ballooned as white families
from Los Angeles resettled in the desert as part of

(01:04):
white flight. A decade later, people of color, chasing low
real estate prices and seeking an escape from the city
followed behind them, but some of the Antelope valley's new
residents who moved in search of a quiet life were
met with violent racism, and some of the people behind
those incidents were members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

(01:33):
This is a tradition of violence, a history of deputy
gangs inside the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. People working
for the Los Angeles County Sheriff stations in the Antelope
Valley are often lifelong residents. Parts of the valley are
extremely remote, and the department uses what they call resident deputies,

(01:56):
sworn personnel who live in the area to patrol it
in David Lynn, Executive director of the Police Misconduct Lawyer's
Referral Service, investigated a white supremacist deputy gang called the
Wayside Whitey's inside of the Pitch's detention center. He spotted
a racist symbol just outside of the jail. Right on

(02:18):
the other side of the freeway was gas station, liquor store,
and they were flying this huge Confederate flag and I
took photos of it as our sharing and the flag disappeared.
It's very bizarre, very bizarre. That year, twenty six year
old Clyde L. Crawford was beaten by a group of deputies,

(02:39):
including a man named John Bones. As they beat Clyde L,
they yelled out that they were in the wayside Whitey's gang.
Clyde L's story was featured in the first episode of
this podcast, yelling screament on my life and I can
see Emmy's out of wind in windows and someone who
ms yelling, Uh, they don't go, but they couldn't do too,

(03:02):
must stop and they're yelling try, you know, Johnny Hill
the best way they can and the John March So
I remember filling my leg Now. Clydel filed a civil
rights lawsuit against l A County that was settled for
just sixty thou dollars. It's not clear if the deputies
who beat him up were ever disciplined, but we do

(03:26):
know that following the attack, John Bones was later promoted
and then went on to kill someone. On June just
after seven am, now Sergeant John Bones crept up to
the front door of a home on a barren desert
street in Little Rock, California. Bones and Detective Patrick Hobbes

(03:49):
were executing a search warrant, but according to illegal filing,
Hobbes got the warrant by lying. He said that the
owner of the home, Eugene Mallory and eighty year old
white man, was using the place as a meth lab.
The Sheriff's department had already been out to the property
with code inspectors and they knew that there was no

(04:10):
meth lab there. Bones, Hobbs, and a group of deputies
entered the house and made their way through the space
quickly and just under a minute, they came into the
back room where Eugene had been sleeping. Bones didn't have
a body camera on, but he was recording audio. He
told Eugene to quote, come on out here, let me

(04:31):
see your hands first, please. Two seconds later, a deputy
yelled woe. Then came seven gun shots. Bones shot Eugene
six times with an H and k MP five nine
millimeter submachine gun. He died on the spot. Bones says
that when he got to the bedroom doorway, Eugene stood

(04:52):
up and raised a Ruger two caliber semi automatic handgun
in his right hand. The same handgun was located in
Eugene's right hand, and it's important to mention that holding
a gun in your hand in your home is not
a crime. Bones is recording revealed that he never commanded
Eugene to drop his weapon. The office of l a

(05:15):
County District Attorney Jackie Lacey found that Bones acted lawfully
in self defense and defense of others when he killed Eugene.
The county settled Eugene's widows civil lawsuit after two years
of litigation, for one point six million dollars paid for
by taxpayers. Deputy gangs like the Wayside Whitey's weren't the

(05:36):
only ones carrying out harmful policing practices against the community.
People of color have complained about the local deputy's lack
of action toward racist crimes since the nineteen nineties. Flyers
urging whites to join the White Arian Resistance, a neo
Nazi and white supremacist organization, were found in twelve packs

(05:58):
of beer at supermarkets and Holmdale in When a group
of black children tried to walk home on February sevent
they were attacked by a group of as many as
ten skin heads, according to the Sheriff's Department. The department
did not classify the incident as a hate crime. On

(06:18):
February one, three black adults and one eleven month old
child parked outside of Antelope Valley High School were severely
injured by broken glass after a group of teenage white
supremacists fired into their car window. Following the incident, Lynda
Thompson Taylor, president of the Antelope Valley branch of the

(06:41):
n double A CP, told The l A Times that
the Sheriff's department did not always classify incidents. Her office
referred to the department as racially motivated. Four months later,
the Dominguez family and their dog were spending the weekend
of June tenth away from their home in Palmdale. Just
after one o'clock in the morning that Sunday, their house

(07:02):
burned down. Authorities found Swastika's spray painted on the remaining
structure to self proclaimed white supremacists beat a homeless black
man to death behind a fast food restaurant that November
in order to get lightning bolt tattoos. They were charged
and only the second ever hate crime in l A
County history. Todd Jordan's, a black teenager, was stabbed by

(07:26):
a group of white supremacist students on the baseball field
at Antelope Valley High School on his way to class
on the morning of December eight. In Marcus Cotton, a
black man was slashed with a machete by two men
who yelled white power. During the attack, the men spat
on his sixteen year old cousin, who was with him.

(07:47):
Another group of white supremacists chase Howard Garfield McClendon, a
thirty two year old black man, into the desert near
the outskirts of Palm Dale in July. They beat him
to death with a aceball bat. The men had spent
the night driving around looking for a black person to kill.
Howard's remains were found in October of but the l

(08:10):
A County Sheriff's Department didn't solve the case until two
thousand four. The demographics of the Antelope Valley continued to
shift as its cities grew. By two thousand, the area
was forty nine percent white, and the black and Latina
populations had grown to thirteen and twenty nine point five percent, respectively.
Black families that were relocating to the a V with

(08:33):
Section eight vouchers received an onslaught of racism. Section eight
is a federal program that allows counties and cities across
the United States to pay rental assistance to low income people.
In order to participate, you need to agree to a
set of so called family obligations, like telling the housing
authority who you will be living with and agreeing to

(08:55):
yearly inspections. The number of Black Section eight holders in
the Antelope Valley doubled between two thousand and two thousand eight,
and between two thousand four and two thousand eleven, the
l A County Sheriff's Department dedicated a significant amount of
resources to harassing them. Some of the deputies participating in
the harassment shared matching tattoos, according to a Department of

(09:18):
Justice report. A study from the Center for Juvenile Justice
found that this deputy gang called themselves the Rattlesnakes. Their
tattoo is of a skull and a snake, and members
can be found at both department stations in the Antelope Valley.
Deputy Oleg Pliski, who worked at the Palmdale station, testified
that he received a tattoo from another deputy gang called

(09:41):
the Cowboys. That gang's tattoo is of a skeleton wearing
a star shaped badge and a cowboy hat and holding
a pistol. Polisky said that he got the tattoo with
a group of other deputies, who then went out with
a larger group of personnel who also had the tattoo.
Pliski claimed that the cowboys tattoo signified that quote no

(10:02):
person has less rights than any other person, and that
quote you treat the public equally and without bias. He
did not say how either of these ideas related to
a skull or a cowboy. In two thousand four, that
then Lancaster Station Captain Carl Deally insinuated to reporters that
Section eight voucher holders were gang members. Referring to their families,

(10:26):
Deally said, quote, a lot of the time they're trying
to do a good thing. Their nephew from South Central
is getting in trouble, so they sent him up here.
He rewards them by continuing his gang activity. That year,
the Housing Authority of Los Angeles County teamed up with
L A. S D. In a memoranda of understanding to
hire and pay for voucher and fraud investigators. All of

(10:50):
the fraud investigators were former deputies. They used department email addresses.
A current Palm Deale deputy even coordinated with a district
Attorne Knee investigator specifically tasked with developing criminal fraud cases
against voucher holders in the city for breaking the program's rules.
That meant that in the Antelope Valley deputies accompanied Housing

(11:13):
Authority inspectors on virtually every yearly visit to Section eight houses.
Between two thousand four and two thousand seven, No other
l A County inspectors followed that procedure. The l A.
S D gave the Department of Justice one hundred and
fifty seven files about contact with voucher holders, and less

(11:34):
than half of the reports gave a reason for the
deputy even being there. Only one quarter of the reports
justified the number of deputies that responded. The Department of
Justice found this agreement quote was carried out with the
intent that African American voucher holders leave Antelope Valley. In
two thousand seven, a Lancaster station sergeant conducted a study

(11:58):
that found quote Section eight housing did not change the
crime statistics within their respective communities. This conclusion did little
to impact the discriminatory treatment of black residents. For example,
arrest for obstruction of justice or impeding a cop from
doing their job at the Lancaster and Palmdale stations made
up twenty five percent of all department arrests and were

(12:21):
higher than the number at every other station of the
uses of force reviewed by the DJ where the only
charge was obstruction related Black and Latina people were involved
in two thousand seven. About a quarter of those arrests
resulted in a reported use of force. During her two
thousand eight campaign, Sherry Marques ran for the Lancaster City

(12:45):
Council on an anti crime platform that conflated the issue
of crime and the voucher program. Her campaign materials stated
Sherry Marques was the quote best choice to fight crime
and Section eight Marques was a been During a February nineteenth,
two thousand nine Section eight Commission meeting, Marques stated, quote, Unfortunately,

(13:08):
those that receive the vouchers do not stay in the
city of Los Angeles. They migrate to the Antelope Valley.
Lancaster will soon be inundated with another group in Palmdale.
The city manager commented that the city needed to be
quote as vigilant as possible enforcing program rules. Another Palmdale
councilman stated that he wanted to make sure that voucher

(13:30):
holders did not quote swarm the valley. The fact that
there was no relation to the presence of Section eight
holders and crime rates was largely ignored. In August two
thousand nine, a statistician for the City of Lancaster reasserted
that conclusion and found that in certain neighborhoods, Voucher program
households might actually keep crime rates lower. The l A

(13:54):
County Sheriff's Department continued to dedicate resources to investigating program
participants in the Antelope Valley. Meanwhile, hate crimes against that
same population began to rise, sometimes fueled by l A.
S D action. As of two thousand ten, the Antelope
Valley had the highest rate of hate crimes in Los

(14:15):
Angeles County. By that time, seventy of the voucher holding
households in Lancaster and six in Palmdale were black. That year,
on August, the first Methodist Episcopal Church in Palmdale, which
had a mostly black congregation, was firebombed. Facebook provided a

(14:35):
large platform for local races to communicate and find targets
for their hate. A page called I Hate Section eight
housed dozens of rants from citizens. Deputies were active on
the page two in two thousand ten, and l A.
S D deputy took pictures of luxury cars in a
home's garage during a Section eight compliance check. The deputy

(14:57):
sent those photos to the administrator of the I Hate
Section eight Facebook page. The family's home was vandalized with
the message I hate you section eight You fucking and
their son had urine thrown on him as the perpetrator
yelled dirty section eight, and that family ended up relocating
from Palm Dale back to the city of l A

(15:18):
out of fear of more harassment. At least one hundred
and eighty people complained about deputy behavior between August two
thousand ten and two thousand eleven, but only one of
those complaints was elevated to the level that could have
resulted in any formal discipline. In fact, several complaints that
clearly involved racial discrimination were not properly handled, according to

(15:43):
the Department of Justice. One person said that a deputy
called her a quote pick a any her complaint was
not marked as one for discrimination, and the watch commander
elected to resolve it via conflict resolution, meaning there would
be no discipline. In another incident, even though there was
video of the deputy using racist language, the person complaining

(16:05):
saying so discredited the allegation. The d o J also
found that the deputies versions of the events were credited
above the civilians without a recording or the deputy admitting
to the behavior. Other deputies would ban together and say
they quote did not hear the offensive language. On August nine,

(16:26):
the Department of Justice informed the Los Angeles County Sheriff's
Department that the federal government would be investigating the Antelope
Valley stations for a pattern or practice of violations of
the Constitution or laws of the United States. That investigation
consisted of a d o J team reviewing over thirty
five thousand documents, completing a six day long visit of

(16:49):
the Antelope Valley stations, and hosting community meetings. The investigation
found that deputies in the area were stopping and searching
black and Latina p full in the Antelope Valley in
a way that indicated that it was racially motivated. In Lancaster,
that meant stops were thirty eight point five percent higher

(17:09):
for those groups than if there were no racial differences.
In Palm Dale, it was thirty three When black people
were stopped in cars, they were personally searched at a
rate that was ten to fifteen percent higher than the
rate of white people. Black drivers in the Antelope Valley
also saw their cars searched at an eight to fourteen
percent higher rate. Black pedestrians were also thirty five percent

(17:34):
more likely than white people to be stopped for things
like jaywalking, which also led to them being searched. The
d o J also found that the Antelope Valley deputies
had a habit of asking people of color whether they
were on probation or parole before a search, which constituted
unlawful discrimination. One deputy told a d o J investigator

(17:56):
that he quote always asks everyone he stops ab out
their probation or parole status to quote get into cars
as in to search them. A training officer told the
investigator that he instructs all deputy trainees to do the
same thing during every stop. Deputies also detained people without

(18:16):
just cause. The Fourth Amendment of the U s Constitution
requires deputies to have reasonable suspicion. Things that are not
reasonable suspicion, according to US law, nervousness, furtive gestures prior arrests,
presence in a high crime area, or the fact that
the suspect does not appear to fit the general ethnic

(18:37):
makeup of the area. Quote. Common conduct exhibited by the
population at large is also insufficient to establish reasonable suspicion.
Department policy also requires deputies to articulate the factual basis
of any stop in their patrol log. The d o
J found that Antelope Valley deputies routinely detained people include

(19:00):
domestic violence victims in the back seats of patrol cars
without any individual assessment of danger or suspicion, which is
a violation of the law. They also pepper sprayed people
who were non violent or handcuffed. In Palm Dale, two
deputies detained two people in the back seat of a
patrol car for a broken license plate tail light. The

(19:22):
deputies did not document this detention in their log. A
Lancaster deputy did a pat down search of a black
woman after stopping her for failing to use her headlights
and having tinted windows, then put her in the back
of his car. He said later during an investigation that
he did it because the woman was upset. People detained

(19:43):
by deputies were also assaulted by them. The d o
J found two things that stood out, the use of
unreasonable and or retaliatory force against people in handcuffs and
the unnecessary use of punches to the head. The team
found quote numerous instances unquote, where the inappropriateness of the

(20:04):
force used was apparent from the deputy's own report. The
department also wasn't responding to the inappropriate uses of force.
The d o J team found a pattern of reluctance
to hold deputies accountable even when there were serious policy violations.
They concluded that the Annalope Valley's deputies were violating the

(20:24):
Fourth and fourteenth Amendment, the Fair Housing Act, and Title six,
writing quote, l A s d S. Antelope Valley Deputies
engage in a pattern of practice of unconstitutional law enforcement
activity that reflects unlawful bias and that violates individuals rights
not to be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures, including

(20:45):
the use of unreasonable force. Wyatt Waldron is local to
the Antelope Valley and graduated from Quartz Hill High School.

(21:08):
Before joining the l A County Sheriff's Department in two
thousand seven, Waldron was a corporal in the U. S.
Marine Corps. He served from two thousand two through two
thousand six, and between January twelve and July thirty one,
two thousand five, he participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He
was given a Silver Star for his role in the

(21:29):
so called Father's Day massacre on June two thousand five,
where he personally killed five people and led his unit
to kill sixteen more. One of his company members told
reporter quote, He's a crazy bastard and he's awesome at
what he does. By October of Waldron had been with

(21:49):
the department for about seven years. In that time, it
appears he became a high ranking member in a deputy gang,
and during a weekend camping trip, he allegedly I had
to shoot the membership tattoo off of another member, Travis Johnson.
Travis is the son of Bob Johnson, the newly elected
sheriff of Santa Clara County who I mentioned in episode

(22:12):
three on The Grim Reapers. Randall Higgins, a former deputy,
says that the older Johnson is a member of the
Grim Reapers gang. Bob denies this. The weekend of October seventeenth,
Travis Johnson, Wyatt Waldron, and other Deputy gang affiliates headed
out for a camping trip in Dove Springs, California. It's

(22:32):
an off roading area just north of Red Rocks State Park.
Johnson thought the trip was to relax, but in reality,
the other guys were pissed at him. My sources inside
l A s D tell me that Johnson made a
change to his deputy gang tattoo that wasn't approved by
gang leadership. Anyone who makes an an authorized change is

(22:53):
punished out in the desert. The deputies allegedly held Johnson
down while Waldron fired several rounds of his off duty
weapon into the ground. Then he tried to burn the
tattoo off of Johnson's leg with the hot barrel of
the gun. When that didn't work, Waldron fired the gun

(23:13):
directly at the tattoo, leaving a gaping bleeding hole. If
you're really brave, a photo of the injury is available
with my story for knock l A. Johnson was transported
from the site of the shooting to the Antelope Valley
Medical Center in Lancaster, about an hour away, in a
private vehicle. Legacy media outlets picked up the story in

(23:36):
and reported the shooting as simply a quote, accidental discharge
of a weapon, and that was the official story until
I investigated earlier this year. For Knock l A. The
l A s D set in that the internal Affairs
and Homicide bureaus would investigate, along with the current county
Sheriff's Department, which is responsible for the area where the

(23:58):
shooting happened. The Office of the Inspector General, which monitors
the l A County Sheriff's Department, looked into the shooting
as part of a report. Several issues with the investigation
were noted. For example, after the shooting, one deputy drove
home from the site of the incident with Waldron's gun
hidden in a compartment in his trailer. He said he

(24:21):
couldn't remember who gave it to him or securing it
in his trailer, but he did remember specific details, like
that he took the gun for quote safe keeping and
the position of the weapons slide when it was handed
to him. Once he got home, the gun was given
to a third deputy, who finally gave it to investigators.
Waldron and Johnson were interviewed by a current county Sheriff's

(24:44):
deputy right after the shooting, but they didn't speak to
l A. S d S internal investigators until three months later.
By this time, according to the Inspector General, the story
had changed. The Inspector General concluded that Waldron admitted to
the internal affairs investigators that he lied to the criminal
investigator about the shooting. The lies were reported to Waldron's

(25:06):
unit commander, who did nothing. Waldron kept his job and
was even promoted to sergeant last year by Sheriff Alex Vienueva.
Inspector General Max Huntsman said to me in a statement
this year quote, the photograph and the allegations around it
require thorough outside investigation because the l as D has
chosen to disregard its obligations to cooperate under California law

(25:31):
and instead opts to investigate the investigators, a tactic we've
seen them escalate to frightening levels in recent days. The
fight to eliminate gang corruption will be a long one.
The Cowboys Deputy gang continued to come under scrutiny, but
no significant action was taken against them. As I discussed
in episode six, Deputy Jason Zabela's tattoo appears to link

(25:54):
him to both the regulators and the Cowboys. It's of
a skeleton wearing a star shaped badge and a cowboy
hat and holding a pistol that's for the Cowboys. Next
to the skeleton is a tombstone displaying the Century Station logo,
which is a diamond shaped crust with Nordic appearing letters
spelling out C N. The Roman numeral one is below.

(26:17):
The tattoo itself is number one hundred and forty. Zabola
killed two people in just eighteen months, Terry Lafitte, a
father of three who Zabola followed home and shot in
his backyard in front of his family, and Johnny Martinez,
a young father in the midst of a mental health crisis.
The Lafitte family filed a civil lawsuit in response to

(26:40):
the killing, saying that the deputies had violated Terry civil
rights when they killed him. The case was settled in
seventeen for one point five million dollars funded by taxpayers.
Sabola gave sworn testimony three times during the litigation and
talked about his tattoo. Just a little over a year
after the civil case wrapped up, Zabola was charged with perjury.

(27:04):
As you've learned in this podcast, is common for l
a county to hire private law firms to represent them.
When that happens, they give deputies involved in the case
notice of the decision and let them know that the
attorney will be representing them as an individual as well
as the county, but according to the l A District
Attorney's Office, Zabola was never told his attorney also represented

(27:28):
l A County. According to the attorney, Zabola's explanation about
the meaning of the number one hundred and forty in
his tattoo was quote different and what he had said
in the deposition testimony. In his deposition, he said that
the number represented that he was the one hundred and
forty person to get the design by the artist. He

(27:50):
also stated that the tattoo showed solidarity with other deputies
at Century Station and the pride he took in being
a deputy, but District Attor Ernie Jackie Lacy chose to
not prosecute Zabola for this. In the investigation summary, the
d a's office wrote that, quote, assuming he gave a
false explanation as to the meaning of one hundred and forty,

(28:14):
insufficient evidence exists to show it was material to a
determination of whether or not the deputies were legally justified
in using deadly force against Terry Lafitte. Remember, it's been
alleged that to get into some of these deputy gangs,
a deputy has to kill someone longtime deputies and the

(28:35):
Antelope Valley were promoted through area station leadership. From that position,
they oversaw a culture that led to the creation of
a white supremacist Ku Klux Klan themed deputy gang inside
of the North County Correctional Facility. The North County Correctional Facility,
or NCCF, is one of four jails inside the Peter J.

(28:56):
Pitches Detention Center. It's the same jail where Idel Crawford
was beaten by a group of deputies claiming to be
in a gang called the Wayside Whiteies. The newer, younger
gang is called i P A an acronym with a
double meaning. It references both the inmate processing area and
is also an acronym for inclusive province. A KIA inclusive

(29:20):
seems to be a nod to the fact that the
group is believed to have black and Latino members. A
report to the Illinois State Legislature on the workings of
the clan defines a province as a territorial division of
a realm or a state. A kia is clan shorthand
for a klansman I am to join, a deputy must

(29:42):
shave their head and be tazard by other i p
A members membership and i p A is restricted to
male deputies. Custody assistants are not allowed to join, but
they can associate with members, which comes with favorable treatment.
I spoke to a former deputy who saw i p
A functioning out in the open while they were working

(30:03):
at NCCF. They didn't want to go on tape for
fear of retaliation, even though they are no longer with
the department. They said that the gang subjected them to
a hostile and dangerous work environment, regularly engaged in misconduct,
denied inmates food, and violently assaulted them. They even saw

(30:25):
an i p A member taser a prospect or prospective
member while on duty. The deputy told me that i
PA A members quote, looked down on people, pretty much
treated everybody like trash, whether you were a coworker or not.
There are training officers that you couldn't ask a question to.
They wouldn't help you. It's like you kind of trust

(30:46):
the inmates more than your partners. The deputy says, I
p A members subject other deputies who do not buy
into the gang's behavior to harassment, like not getting lunch
or relief breaks from standing the gang also reports two
personnel working at the Annealt Valley stations about who was
going along with their agenda. People who don't are passed

(31:09):
over for promotion to patrol and forced to keep working
in the jail. They're also ignored when they radio for help.
Former Deputy Angel Rainosa watched this behavior up close. So
everyone had to shave your head. And I knew of
a trainee that was in the six building who didn't
shave his head, and I would always hear all the

(31:29):
training officers talk crap about him, saying what's up with
this guy? Like who does he think he is? And
they wouldn't help him at all. They wouldn't go to
the station. They think they responded slow to one of
his fights that he had and it was just because
he didn't shave his head. They would put us in
a simulation basically where they would put one of the
training officers that we didn't know yet in a jumpsuit

(31:53):
basically all blue suit, and they would pretend that they're
escorting him or something, and then they would have the
train officer who was waiting the blues fight to see
what we would do. It's not in policy, it's not
something that's top prior to you getting there is something
they came up with on their own. Angel says that
he wanted to become a deputy sheriff to help out
his community. He applied to the department after attending a

(32:16):
job fair while he was a college student. I remember
my mom told me, don't do it. She told me
finished school as a like a kid, you think you
could clean up crime just by being one person, and
you know, once you get in you kind of see
it's a little different. After completing the academy, new deputies
work in the jails, Angel was assigned to work at NCCF.

(32:38):
He noticed that the so called shot callers and I
p A had a considerable amount of influence over which
deputies were selected to go out to patrol and where
they went. They would send like a kind of like
a progress support of the person that's going now. So
say someone's going out to Palmdale. The people at the

(32:59):
jails have buddies at work at Palmdale. You know, they
might be training officers or someone who's been there for
a couple of years. No asked the jail the people
in the jail, A, what do you think about this guy?
Or this girl, and they would give their opinions on
him about oh we don't like him, we like him,
or you know, give him a tough time. I remember
before I left, one of the training officers was like, well,

(33:20):
I'm gonna find out how you're doing. We were joking around,
but I know he was serious because I forgot what
we were saying. But he was like, oh, I don't
say that. You know, I know people that I will
give you a tough time and reality, you know, we
could have been saying in a joking manner, but it's
it's the truth. They wanted to say anything. You give
this guy a tough time. You know, it's easy. They

(33:43):
could do very easily. One of those shot callers was
Deputy Conrad Theme. Theme has a history with violence. On
August thirty one, he was arrested in Sonoma County for
domestic violence. The responding police officer are noted in his
report that he heard a woman yelled quote, leave me alone,

(34:04):
stop hitting me before he got to the door. When
the officers spoke to the woman, he saw her shirt
was ripped open. She said, quote, my jaw hurts, I
can't feel my face. It doesn't appear that Theme was
ever charged and he was never disciplined by L A.
S D. At the time of the domestic violence incident,

(34:25):
Theme was assigned to the Lost Hills station in Calabasas.
In November, he assaulted sixty one year old Zenithon Sanders
during a traffic stop. According to the civil rights lawsuit
he filed afterwards, Zenathan had left his friend's house after
an argument with their roommate. He thinks the guy called
the cops in retaliation. Theme is alleged to have stopped

(34:49):
Zenathon by shining a spotlight in his eyes and commanding
him to exit over a loud speaker. When Zenithan tried
to lay down in the street like he was being
told them gold him. Then, Theme pinned his back to
the street and continued to smash his head into the pavement.
Theme ignored E. M. T. S onun seen and didn't

(35:10):
let them provide medical care to Zenithon. Instead, Zenithon was
arrested for resisting arrest and had his car searched. He
was taken to the e er, then held at a
jail facility until four o'clock in the morning. In his report,
Theme said that Zenathon was detained at gunpoint for assault
with a deadly weapon, and was backed up by three

(35:32):
other deputies who responded to the call. Charges were filed
against Xenothon for resisting arrest, but were dropped by the
district Attorney's office. Xenothon's lawyer told me that the case
was settled several months ago, but that his client has
still not been paid. He said he had no idea
about themes prior violence and would be renegotiating the settlement.

(35:55):
Just under two years later, Theme was responsible for a
brawl breaking at NCCF that resulted in multiple injuries among
incarcerated men and deputies. I was able to obtain footage
of the entire incident. On March twelve, nineteen, just before
one pm, Theme and three other deputies responded to a call.

(36:18):
They handcuffed a man and removed him from his unit.
As Theme walks by a row of bunks, he stops
to speak to a group of incarcerated men. Then he
reaches in and begins punching one of the men standing
between the bunk beds. One of the other deputies joins in.
The third deputy was left to escort the incarcerated man alone,

(36:39):
and when he realized he was by himself, turned around
to join in the punching upstairs, but he was hit
in the face by another inmate. He fell and was
quickly swarmed by incarcerated people upstairs. Theme, who according to
arrest records is six ft three and two hundred and
thirty pounds, tackles the man he was beating to the

(37:00):
floor and lays his body on the man's neck more
than fifty l A s D personnel responded to the brawl.
According to deputies working at the jail at the time,
Theme was not disciplined for his role in starting it.
Months later, several alleged i PA members who responded to
the scene were selected to move on to patrol in

(37:23):
the Antelope Valley. On February eight, a student at Pepperdine
University in Malibu was sexually assaulted by a man that
had broken into her apartment. According to the current report,
Theme responded to the call for help with another deputy
and immediately victim shame the woman, saying, quote I smell pot.

(37:45):
Are you sure you're not imagining it? The deputies dismissed
the assault as quote trespassing and didn't bother gathering security footage.
Angel Rainosa worked with Theme while at NCCF. The interactions
with Theme and gave him a crash course on how
l a s D treated new recruits and the community.

(38:06):
In nineteen, Angel was selected to move out to patrol
at the Lancaster station. A long time deputy from the
station gave him and the other new personnel a lecture
before they started. He was very aggressive towards us, saying
that you know, if we don't want to be here,
if we don't put there for you, get the funk
out like and he said that that's where I heard

(38:27):
first heard the term paper fuck like I will paper
fuck you, basically a term which means get every call
for services and you you end up with maybe twelve
reports by the end of your shift that you will
not finish. By the end of your shift before the
twenty four hour period we had to come back, so
you have maybe seven from that day and the next

(38:48):
day we'll do it again. And it's within policy technically,
because you know, they could say it's training, we want
to give him the most cause, but in reality they
want to put you through so much stress that you
just quit. There was also hazing. You have to shave
your head. You can't have hair. There's not even a question.
Like especially when you're patrol, it's a little more like
people take it more seriously to give you so many calls.

(39:11):
I'll make you do so many things that don't get
you too quick quick. There was an entrance to the
locker room that you weren't allowed to use unless you
were deputy who has been there, I believe like a
year or more. So. If you're training, you have to
go out out the station to the back through some stairs.
You would work over time without getting paid. I've worked

(39:34):
shifts when I was only doing eight never got paid,
And I did this consistently, never got paid. Sometimes sleep
in your car because you know you have to be
at work in like five hours, so there was no
point of going home and you have to be right back.
It seems like they used your trainees for the workloads
so they could just chill. He also saw up close
how deputies were continuing to target people of color in

(39:57):
the Antelope Valley. They even had a name for it, hunting.
So the first time I saw hunting was I did
right along prior to going to the station. They had
units that just cruise along finding crime. I was a
part one of those units somewhere right along and we
had saw a car that was driving. They had music

(40:19):
on the front, window was down and you could see
the occupants inside and they were African American males. I
remember the deputing like, oh, we got one and they
didn't do anything wrong. You can't say tinted because the
window was down. The back is not an issue. So
he busted a you and then um, there's a part
where you had to enter like probo cause for your stop.

(40:41):
And I remember him referencing like the something dangling from
the mirror or as a PC to stop it. So
we got behind him and we we lit the car
up with the lights and they pulled over and I
remember him ordering everyone out of the car. He didn't
see anything like you know to get people out of
the car. But some people know the rights and they
kind of get taken advantage of and they just do

(41:03):
what they're told. You could look inside the car and
you ask, you don't ask. You search and it was
more just trying to find something. They wanted to find guns,
large quantities and narcotics. Angel says making a rest like
that boosted a deputy's profile at the station. When you
get an arrest, it's considered a stat that's what they

(41:24):
consider it. So when you go on hunt, your stat
total goes up and you're seen as a you know,
like a bigger person. You have stats. When you have
three arrest, that's good policing, you know, But half the
time it's violating people's rights. They have a suppression teams,
summer suppression teams that they have and that's all they do.
Angel says the system is biased and police officers favor

(41:48):
BODYCMS weren't there when I was there. It's really the
cops words versus their words. And it wasn't something that
every pictured. You know, when I joined, picturing pulling over
people by the skinning something I didn't go out in
my head. It wasn't something I signed up to do.
Angel says the d j's protocol agreement with the l
a s D had zero impact on how deputies did

(42:09):
their work. Some people wouldn't do it, and they would uh,
it would flag like the watch sarget and they would
be like, hey, you guys didn't finish and never fuck
that bullshit, you know, the type of thing. So it
seemed like they didn't really care about it. Angel Rainosa

(42:36):
continued to train on patrol at the Lancaster station. He
says the culture wasn't very open. The people who've been
there maybe like five years and up, and specifically they
live there, um, they live in Davy wherever it may be,
they usually are the training officers that are there, and

(42:57):
all those training officers eventually moved to detectives. You could
see the difference. Even people who are off training, say
they've been their year, they're not even a part of that.
It's kind of like you could see it how they
hang out, where they talk, where they go after work.
And they also have a saying who becomes a training officer,
So it's not kind of like, oh, let me test

(43:19):
for it. They only pick the people they want. They
just kind of want to keep it within their community.
Everyone who lives there must patrol there. Anyone that doesn't
live there and you're not going to get into that
little circle they got there. After about a month of training,
Angel was placed with Deputy Anthony Levin. My second training

(43:40):
officer was instantly, where do you live? Why are you here?
You're too young? You know you don't belong here. You
know you don't even live here. Why are you making
that commute? Why are you doing this? On Augusten, Angel
and Levin were assigned to respond to a stabbing well.
Processing the scene, Angel ran towards where the suspect was

(44:03):
last seen to try to figure out the path the
suspect had taken to get away. That counts as a
foot pursuit. He didn't know that at the time. When
he told Levin what happened, Levin told him not to
include the pursuit and the police report. I didn't feel
right about it. It It felt a little sketch. I was like,
you know what, I'm not going to turn it in

(44:23):
the next morning. This is probably six hours after because
I got home late. My TEO texted me saying, don't
log in, which means like, don't go into the computer. He's, hey,
you lie to me, like you put that. You know
you weren't in a foot pursuit, but you were. You
know you did this. You know, like you're done. I'm
gonna put you on this duty. I'm recommending you for mediation.

(44:45):
But he didn't know. I didn't turn in the report yet.
Angel was taken out of the field anyway and was
assigned to work in the station's jail. He confronted Levin.
I had confronted my training officer and tell him, hey,
I'm not gonna do what you told me. I'm not
going to falsify the report. You know you're saying I
lack integrity. You know you lack integer you're telling me
to do this. And I told him I was going

(45:06):
to report him to a lads the police union on
my day off, which would have been that Thursday. And
he left and he told the supervisors in another room,
and they brought me in there saying like, hey, you
gotta go. You're too young. You gotta get out of here.
I'll give you the day to think about it. Let
me know. So that's the next day. I was put
on the desk and they throughout that morning they were

(45:27):
asking me like, hey, you have you made your decision.
You're gonna go. You're gonna go. Right. It was Wednesday, August.
I was working in the front desk and a gentleman
came in saying that some people wanted to shoot him,
and he was pointing to a specific person, you know,
having a backpack that looked like a tactical backpack across
the street from the station. And then went back in

(45:50):
and I told the supervisor in the front desk area
and I hate this guy's telling me this that, And
she's like, hey, you know, put a call in, but
don't make an emergent. Put it as a routine call.
And routine calls in Lancaster three or four hours so
much like stuff going on, They're never going to go basically,
And she said, we don't want to panic if you

(46:10):
put you know, rifle bag or anything like that. And
I told the guy he's sitting here, you know, I
don't go outside. Prior to that, I had taken like
a forgery report from an older lady who said that
she it was like a scam. I wanted to go
to my car to get prior reports that I've written,
so I wanted to reference off of it, just to
see the like how to write it, kind of a template.
And so I notified everyone that was working with, Hey,

(46:33):
I'm going to my car. Just before he was about
to head back to the desk, something happened that was
parked in the back by the apartment complex. So I
had a bunch of stuff in my hand. That's when
I like, I heard like a whiz and like followed
by like pain. It was like to my right shoulder area.
And then I didn't kind of understand like what it was.

(46:56):
It was like a weird feeling. And then that's when
you know, I hear another whiz and then that's when
I like I dropped through everything, you know, down everything
I had in my hand. I put my back against
my car. I kind of just like froze there for
a little like like a second or two, like what's happening,
Like what's going on? And then that's when I looked

(47:18):
over to my right. I had like like a terror
of my shirt. It was a small kind of like hole. Oh,
and also my finger was bleeding, and I got on
the radio, I got the helipad. That's when deputy started

(47:41):
coming to me, and they ended up pulling up a
car throwing me in to transfer me to like a
fire station, and then from there we went from the
fire station to the hospital. We didn't see like a
bullet wound or anything. Lots of l A s D
personnel came out to see him, even Sheriff alex By

(48:01):
and UAVA. Once he was discharged, he was taken to
the Palm Dale station and interviewed by homicide detectives investigating
the shooting. They were like, let's take a bathroom break.
So they all went out. At the time, they were
answering phone calls, they were texting people. Levin's was taking
place at the exact same time they did this thing.
And then they come back in and then they started
asking me questions that are more like trying to get

(48:24):
incriminating evidence out of me or stuff like that. His
training officer, Anthony Levin, was being interviewed in another room
during that bathroom break. I later found out his transcripts
of the interview that all he did was sale is
a liar alight about a foot pursuit? A lied about
this report. How was fabricating his report? So it seems
like they just stopped everything just because they got this

(48:45):
one report from this guy. My training officer was like, there,
he has a lot of respect at the station. Did
you trust them at the time, Yeah. Absolutely. I never
felt like I was in a position where they were
going to start like accusing me and all this weird stuff.
Throughout the whole thing, I was cooperating with them. I
wasn't like hiding anything. It wasn't ghosting them or anything.

(49:06):
Who do you think shot you? I never knew, and
still to this day, I don't know. Like I feel
like the investigation was shut down so soon that the
possibility to even finding anything would be impossible. One week
after the incident, Sheriff Via Nueva stated in a news
conference that Angel had made up the entire shooting. The

(49:27):
department fired him, then started investigating him. They said all
this bad stuff. He confessed that this, but they didn't
arst me, which is strange. Every he was out it
said a fake shooting, fake to shooting, fake to shooting.
It was just too much and then I got fired
top and all, like what was I going to do now?
At least three people, including another deputy, said that they

(49:49):
heard gunshots or loud popping noises. No bullets were recovered,
but the l A s D located at least ten
aerosoft pellets in the Angel area, was as well as
several metal bbs. He appealed his termination from the department
to the Civil Service Commission. On January they ruled that
because he was still on probation for patrol, he could

(50:11):
not be rehired. The next day, Angel was charged with
two felony counts of insurance fraud related to a worker's
compensation claim, and one misdemeanor for filing a false police report.
A guilty conviction on the felonies could mean a seven
year prison sentence. Then he was arrested and taken to
Men's Central Jail as an inmate. He was bailed out

(50:34):
later that day and began the long wait for his trial.
One of Angel's old co workers, Conrad Theme, was also
arrested several months later, but his experience was much different.
On April tenth, the alleged I P A shot caller
assaulted an unarmed, compliant woman in the midst of a

(50:55):
mental health crisis. Thirty two year old Sarah Jafari's mother
had all deputies for help. Theme and others arrived on
scene and approached Sarah. She backed away from them with
her hands outstretched. Theme suddenly punched her in the throat,
knocking her backwards. Deputies started to use their tasers on her.

(51:16):
Then Theme picked her up by the hair and threw
her into his patrol car. Sarah was taken to the
emergency room, then placed in jail. The deputies wrote a
police report that falsely stated she had resisted arrest. Then
returned to Sarah's mom's house and tried to make her
say that Sarah had a knife. Eventually, the charges against

(51:37):
Sarah were dropped. According to the current report Captain Chuck,
but Sarah immediately alerted the executive staff at l A
s D to the assault. Theme was investigated by the
Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau and referred to the District Attorney's office.
In May of this year, Theme was charged with two
counts of felony assault and one count a filing a

(52:00):
false police report. Lieutenant Jim Braden, who supervised Theme at
the Lost Hills station, told the Los Angeles Times that
Theme was relieved of duty that day. As of Mayo,
Theme was suspended on administrative leave with pay. Angel went
to trial just a few weeks ago and was found

(52:21):
not guilty on the two counts of felony insurance fraud
and guilty of a misdemeanor count of filing a false
police report. He thinks the misdemeanor verdict came on a technicality.
The jury were submitting questions to to the court. The
questions that they were submitting were I believe it was like,
what is the definition of like report or the legal

(52:43):
tumb of report, and then the next question was like
they wanted to see an interview I believe a SWAP
member at the hospital, and the whole interview consisted with
what I had said in regards to like I heard
whizzy noises or heard this. My attorney Jesse, we were thinking, like, hey,
they're just trying to think of it as a technical

(53:03):
term now about what report means their questions. He's like, dude,
these are big. They're literally just looking for the terminology
of everything. And he's like, they're probably trying to see
if the fact that you said whizzing but then you
put out shots, even if you interpret them as shots,
that that's the false report. When the verdict came back

(53:25):
no guilties on the felonies, you know, I got tried eyed,
like it was like that was the charges. I was
really afraid of. Angel, who tried to call out bad
practices in the department, was fired, but his coworker, who
assaulted women and is believed to lead a racist deputy gang,
still appears to be collecting a paycheck funded by taxpayers.

(53:49):
I want to hear from you, what are some of
your questions about deputy gangs. We're going to have a
special episode answering questions, so please send them to l
A s D. Gang's a gm l dot com. Hegel
Dia who hood moment. Fuck the police, I'm a fucking trophy.

(54:10):
You've been listening to a Tradition of violence. The History
of Deputy Gangs in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
hosted an executive produced by series Castle music by Yellow
Hill and Steels. We want to hear from you. If
you have a question about deputy Gangs or the l
s D, please send an email to L A s
D Gangs at gmail dot com. For breaking news and

(54:32):
updates and deputy gags, follow at l A s D
Gangs on social media. To support series's reporting and for
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