November 30, 2015
Two former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies were sentenced to federal prison Monday for their roles in the beating of a handcuffed jail visitor and a scheme to cover up the assault.
In successive hearings held in his downtown courtroom, U.S. District Judge George H. King rejected last-ditch requests for leniency from lawyers for Sussie Ayala and Fernando Luviano. The judge gave Ayala a six-year sentence, and Luviano received seven years.
Ayala, 30, and Luviano, 37, were convicted in June alongside their supervisor at the county’s main jail facility. A jury found that the three had violated the civil rights of Gabriel Carrillo, who was left badly bloodied in the 2011 beating and was then arrested on trumped-up charges.
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The supervisor, former Sgt. Eric Gonzalez, was sentenced last month to eight years in prison.
Though Ayala declined the chance to address King before she was sentenced, Luviano offered a brief apology to Carrillo “for the injuries he suffered.”
“It was not our intention,” he said, his voice wavering.
Afterward, Assistant U.S. Atty. Lizabeth Rhodes, one of the prosecutors in the case, questioned Luviano’s sincerity.
“I find it hard to fathom how one punches someone multiple times, pepper sprays them while they are bloody, and then files false reports about them in order to subject them to criminal prosecution with no intent,” she said.
Though attorneys for the two deputies and Gonzalez said they planned to appeal the convictions, the sentences Monday brought closure to the nearly five-year saga of Carrillo’s beating.
The case is the first of a handful in which deputies face brutality charges stemming from a wide-ranging FBI investigation into the county jails.
The FBI’s inquiry set off a scandal that tarnished the career of longtime Sheriff Lee Baca, who stepped down last year, and led to the indictment of his former top aide on obstruction-of-justice charges. The investigation has so far resulted in the conviction of more than a dozen former sheriff’s officials on charges of obstruction and other crimes.
Ayala and Luviano were on duty at the visitors center of Men’s Central Jail in February 2011 when Carrillo showed up to visit his brother, then an inmate.
When Carrillo and his then-girlfriend were found carrying cellphones in the lobby of the jail visiting center — a violation of state law — they were handcuffed and taken into a private room.
After Carrillo mouthed off to Ayala, she summoned Luviano, who threw Carrillo to the floor. Other deputies joined in, unloading a barrage of kicks and punches. As Carrillo was held down and still handcuffed, Luviano pepper-sprayed him in the face.
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