Families who protest LA County deputy killings say they've been harassed

A new report issued by the National Lawyers Guild, the ACLU, Black Lives Matter and other groups claims families who protest Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department killings have been harassed by the deputies long after their loved one is gone.

Video Transcript

- Carlos, thank you. Troubling allegations against the LA County Sheriff's Department that deputies have been harassing family members who protest the killing of their loved ones by deputies. Our Josh Haskell has some of their stories, and what the sheriff is saying in response.

- A new report issued by the National Lawyers Guild, the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, and other groups found families who protest LA County Sheriff's Department killings have been harassed by deputies long after their loved one is gone.

STEPHANIE LUNA: Not only did they murder my nephew and traumatize my family, but they continued to re-traumatize my family by harassing and intimidating us. You know, we faced everything from them removing religious items at my nephew's vigil to them passing by our home, waving at the kids playing in the driveway. They park in the corner of our house. They went as far as calling my sister, who does not live in LA County.

- Stephanie Luna's nephew, Anthony Vargas, was shot 13 times by two East LA Sheriff's deputies in August of 2018 when Vargas was returning home from a party. Deputies tried to detain Vargas in connection with a robbery, but a fight broke out. And deputies say, Vargas reached for a gun, but the family believes it was planted by the deputies.

- These are the people that are sworn in to protect you, and instead, today, what we're asking for is we're asking for protection from the people that are sworn in to protect us.

- Brian Twyman was unarmed and shot three four times in June of 2019. His family says they've been harassed ever since they began questioning the shooting.

CHIQUITA TWYMAN: My mother goes out to visit my brother once a week, every Thursday, his grave, and we've been harassed at the grave. I have pictures. I have videos of the sheriffs waving at us, getting out, walking towards the grave. You know, my dad asked them why they're here and telling them his name. You know, they're letting us know, oh, we know who you are and what you're doing here.

- On Tuesday, the LA County Board of Supervisors approved a motion to protect surviving families from law enforcement, harassment, and retaliation, even after Sheriff Villanueva denied harassment taking place.

ALEX VILLANUEVA: We asked the Inspector General for additional information if he had any. He offered none. When you're making these declaratory statements, you have no basis, no foundation whatsoever to make them, and disparage the good reputation, and discredit the law enforcement, the profession, the Sheriff's Department, in particular, and delegitimizing our efforts in the eyes of the community.

JOSH HASKELL: The Board of Supervisors motion instructs the OIG to update its 2020 report by working directly with these families, and the Inspector General can pursue legal options if the Sheriff's department doesn't cooperate.