Deputies involved in Christmas party brawl in Montebello file suit against sheriff’s department

From City News Service:

LOS ANGELES — Two Los Angeles County deputies allegedly attacked by other deputies at a Christmas party allege the department fosters an atmosphere of “lawlessness” among staffers at Men’s Central Jail, according to their federal civil rights lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles.
The complaint by deputies Chris Vasquez and Elizario Perez alleges that the sheriff’s department is “inadequate” in disciplining and controlling deputies, “particularly with respect to illegal acts and acts of excessive force.”
The lawsuit names Sheriff Lee Baca, Los Angeles County and seven deputies, most of whom were apparently assigned to the third floor of Men’s Central Jail, where a gang-like clique of employees had formed, the plaintiffs claim.
The complaint stems from a Christmas party last year at the Quiet Cannon banquet hall in Montebello, where Vasquez and Perez were apparently involved in a fight with a half-dozen deputies.
The seven deputies named in the suit are Alfonso Andrade, Hernan Delgado, Joseph Gonzalez, Juan Navarro, Jeffrey Rivera, Mauricio Rodriguez and Jason Snyder.
As a result of the Christmas altercation, Vasquez and Perez suffer from lasting physical injuries and “mental anguish,” according to the lawsuit.
Sheriff’s department spokesman Steve Whitmore said the department has dealt with the incident “expeditiously,” adding that “six people are facing termination.”
He also denied allegations that the department encourages “lawlessness” among jail staffers.
“There is absolutely no atmosphere of violence” among deputies, Whitmore said.
“We are looking forward to telling the whole story (in court),” he said.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages and court costs.
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