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Families of people killed in deputy-involved shootings accuse deputies of harassment, intimidation


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    LOS ANGELES, CA (KCAL, KCBS) — The families of people who have been killed in deputy-involved shootings have accused deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department of harassing and intimidating them.

The families of Vanessa Marquez, Anthony Vargas, Daniel Hernandez, and Paul Rea were on hand Tuesday in front of the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles to share their experiences, which are backed up by a report from the National Lawyers Guild and ACLU.

The families allege that deputies have harassed and intimidated them by stopping and handcuffing them, and in one case, even following them to a gravesite.

“We have video proof, we have pictures. We’ve taken them to them to the sheriff’s department, we’ve called the CLC meetings, we’ve done what we’ve had to do, and nothing’s gotten done,” Stephanie Luna, the aunt of Anthony Vargas said. “These families aren’t getting protected, my family’s not getting protected. Instead, we’re getting harassed.”

Anthony Vargas was shot 13 times by deputies in August of 2018 after allegedly struggling with, then pulling a gun on deputies investigating an armed robbery in East LA. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s investigation into the shooting concluded the deputies acted in lawful self-defense and defense of others in the shooting, and Vargas’ family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the department.

Lea Garcia, the mother of Paul Rea, says she and her family have had to watch their backs since he was fatally shot by Deputy Hector Saavedra in June of 2019. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office determined Saavedra acted lawfully in self-defense in that shooting.

“Since my son’s death, we have been terrorized,” Garcia said. “We have made complaints. We have went to the sheriff’s department and nothing is ever done.”

At their Tuesday meeting, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion for Chairwoman Hilda Solis to protect families from harassment and retaliation from Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies.

“Families experiencing loss at the hands of LASD deserve the space to mourn the loss of their loved ones peacefully without contending with retaliatory actions on behalf of sheriff’s deputies,” Solis said in a statement.

The Office of Inspector General looked into complaints made by families who had been impacted by law enforcement violence and came back with a report in 2020, providing examples of families who experienced harassment by LASD deputies. The motion passed Tuesday instructs the OIG to work further with impacted families to update its report and return to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors with recommendations for supporting these families and forbidding harassment of them within 60 days. The motion also directs county counsel to work with the OIG to pursue legal options if it is prohibited from fulfilling its directive.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has not returned a request for comment.

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