Adrienna Wong, a staff attorney with the ACLU, has filed a lawsuit against the San Bernardino County Sheriff´s Department on Thursday, seeking more information regarding the alleged mistreatment of inmates at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. (Staff photo by Rick Sforza/The Sun)
By Doug Saunders and Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 03/26/15, 1:26 PM PDT
SAN BERNARDINO >> The ACLU sued the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Thursday, seeking a judge’s order to produce records on its Taser gun policies and practices, in light of controversy over how deputies are using the devices.
In the 21-page lawsuit filed Thursday in San Bernardino Superior Court, attorneys sought records from the Sheriff’s Department through a California Public Records Act request, and the cited a 2012 San Bernardino County Grand Jury probe that culminated with recommendations on the Sheriff’s Department improving its training on Taser gun use.
That use, they said, came in the wake of the deaths of several men in recent years after being stunned repeatedly with Tasers.
The Sheriff’s Department has refused to disclose the records, arguing that the requested information included in department use-of-force reports, detailing the number of Taser deployments by deputies and the duration of Taser exposures on individuals, is protected under the attorney-client privilege, according to court documents, filed Thursday in San Bernardino Superior Court.
“The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department has refused to publicly disclose records related to the policies and practices surrounding its officers’ use of Tasers,” ACLU executive director Hector Villagra said. “That’s unacceptable given the troubling number of deaths involving individuals who were Tasered multiple times.”
The information about Taser use that the Sheriff’s Department withheld is contained in disclosable records other than use-of-force reports, but the Sheriff’s Department failed to identify and produce those records, according to the ACLU court filing.
Sheriff John McMahon said his office has released everything he could to the ACLU.
“We responded to their requests and delivered over 700 pages of documents,” McMahon said. “Everything that’s not confidential (personnel or active litigation documents) that they requested in their discovery was given to them.”
ACLU lawyer Adrienna Wong said the reason they are seeking the documents is to be sure the Sheriff’s Department made the changes recommended by the Grand Jury.
“We need to see if the sheriff made those changes as promised,” Wong said in a phone interview. “And if not, the sheriff’s department needs to be held accountable.”
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