A shocking claim against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department is rocking Compton.
Austreberto Gonzalez, a deputy for the LA County’s sheriff department has filed a claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — against the county alleging the Compton station is controlled by a vicious gang.
“We have a gang here that has grown to the point where it dominates every aspect of life at the Compton station,” Alan Romero, an attorney representing Gonzalez in the claim, told Yahoo. “It essentially controls scheduling, the distribution of informant tips and assignments to deputies in the station with preference shown to members of the gang as well as prospects.”
Gonzalez claims punitive retaliation was meted out after he anonymously reported a fellow Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy to internal affairs for assaulting a colleague.
Furthermore, Gonzalez claims the punishment was served to him by the Executioners, a group of deputies with the same tattoos, which are a powerful force at the Compton station, Yahoo reports. The tattoos feature a skull, Nazi images and an AK-47.
The claim alleges that the group is involved in setting illegal arrest quotas and threatening work slowdowns if they don’t get preferred assignments — and are said to be responsible for several killings of unarmed black men.
The Executioners are just one of the groups that operate out of several California Sheriff departments that are inked and carry names like the Spartans, Regulators, Grim Reapers and Banditos that, according to Yahoo, are part of a federal probe by the FBI.
Compton Sheriff Alex Villanueva said during a live Facebook broadcast Wednesday that “there is no gang of any deputies running any station.” But he said that he was disturbed by the allegations in the claim and that “swift administrative action” is being taken.
“I take these allegations very seriously and recently enacted a policy specifically addressing illicit groups, deputy cliques and subgroups.” Villanueva enacted measures in February that prohibit deputies from participating in cliques.
Inspector General Max Huntsman told Yahoo, “[I am] aware of no implementation whatsoever” of the policy and that his office can’t effectively investigate the secret societies “because of the obstruction of the Sheriff’s Department.”
According to Gonzalez’s claim, the Compton station deputies involved in the Executioners’ number around 20 to 40 men who work the night shift and communicate through WhatsApp. Women and black men are not allowed in the group.
“Nearly all the CPT Deputies who have been involved in high-profile shootings and out-of-policy beatings at CPT in recent years have been ‘inked’ members of The Executioners,” the claim, obtained by Yahoo, alleges. “‘Inking’ refers to the act of each newly made member of The Executioners receiving a matching tattoo indicating membership in the organization. … Members become inked as ‘Executioners’ after executing members of the public, or otherwise committing acts of violence in furtherance of the gang.”
Gonzalez claims after his anonymous complaint he was threatened, forced to step down from his field training officer position, refused a partner and saddled with calls by the gang.
Advocates for the groups argue that they are hard at work and raising morale, according to Yahoo.
The new allegations come as the Compton station is under accusations of high-profile uses of force, including the death of Andres Guardado, 18, who was shot in the back five times by a deputy in Gardena.
In a civil case stemming from a 2016 killing of Donta Taylor by deputies in that department, the law enforcement officers claimed Taylor had a handgun (no weapon was found) and one of the perpetrators, Samuel Aldama, admitted under oath to having ink on his calf depicting a skull with a rifle and a military-style helmet surrounded by flames, along with the letters “CPT” for Compton.
The Taylor family lawsuit was settled for $7 million last year.
“[The Gonzalez claim] is an atomic bomb that has been dropped on law enforcement,” John Sweeney, an attorney who represented Taylor’s family, told Yahoo.
The sheriff’s department has patrolled the Compton streets since 2000 after the city disbanded its police force due to rising crime and gang violence.