It could happen  to anyone

It could happen to anyone

Problems with deputies patrolling Metro trains and buses need a closer look

By Kevin Uhrich 09/12/2012

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Think only bad people get into trouble with law enforcement?

Think only people behind bars are beaten up by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, as numerous former inmates and others have claimed?

Think again.

In 2009, friend of the Weekly Carla Sameth suffered a broken nose and several serious physical and emotional injuries at the hands of overzealous deputies patrolling the Gold Line, all for being unable to immediately produce a boarding pass.

I became physically ill after hearing Carla’s story, reading some of the deposition testimony from her lawsuit and then watching a videotape of the aftermath of her beating, produced by deputies for their own legal protection.

But then I thought: If mild-mannered Carla, who makes a living at public relations and promoting other writers, could be beaten, handcuffed, humiliated and threatened with arrest over the most miniscule of alleged infractions, then surely such a thing could happen to any of us.

In Carla’s case, trouble started when she was asked by a deputy for her ticket and couldn’t produce it. She had a receipt for a $5 day pass in her purse. She just couldn’t find the ticket right away. But apparently that was enough provocation for the impatient deputy to order Carla off the train in Highland Park.

Once on the passenger landing, Carla was led before two deputies standing around doing nothing, as usual. (Why these erstwhile tax-collectors aren’t equipped to sell tickets is anyone’s guess.) Although she was neither armed nor remotely dangerous, Carla was turned around by a woman deputy and searched. When she turned slightly to say she was being hurt, the deputy grabbed the back of Carla’s head and rammed her face into a steel support beam twice.

How many other people with “ticket issues,” one has to wonder, have had similar experiences since the Sheriff’s Department took over “security” duties on Metro bus and rail lines? Would other targets of deputy violence and harassment be fortunate enough, like Carla, to have friends who are lawyers or newspaper people? Would they even know how to file a complaint?

Many people who do not speak English or have the ability to get around any other way than public transit have to deal with these Gestapo-like tactics on a daily basis and probably wouldn’t want to risk reprisal by filing a complaint.
It’s difficult to imagine what could have prompted such barbarism against Carla, who actually did public relations work for Metro a few years ago and in June ended her lawsuit against the county and the Sheriff’s Department for a $199,000 out-of-court settlement.

But let there be no question: What these deputies did and did not do, as well as their total lack of contrition and accountability, is a shameful, unconscionable disgrace to the county, if not the state’s entire law enforcement community. That not one of these deputies interceded on Carla’s behalf, and the fact that nothing has been done to prevent incidents like this in the future, only fuels concerns that the Sheriff’s Department has become little more than an unmanageable gang of sadistic thugs who are allowed — if not actually expected — to inflict injury on anyone at any time with total impunity and without fear of reprimand.

That aloof, untouchable, bad-ass identity seems to suit the department’s top brass just fine, so it should come as no surprise to learn that people no longer respect the LA County Sheriff’s Department as much as they fear and loathe it.
It’s too bad, because this type of brown-shirt behavior only continues to erode any remaining confidence the public might have in either Metro or the Sheriff’s Department, now seen by many as an agency unable or unwilling to change.
Just as a blue-ribbon panel appointed by the Board of Supervisors and headed by retired US District Judge Dickran Tevrizian, a Pasadena resident, looked into allegations that deputies working in county jails routinely beat and torture inmates, finding deficiencies in leadership at the very top of the sheriff’s management system, we believe the Metro Board of Directors or the Board of Supervisors should investigate incidents involving deputy violence committed against rail and bus passengers.

Interestingly enough, Carla learned through the course of her legal journey that the person who’d beaten her up had just come from working in the jail, where deputies receive their very first three to five years of job training. Carla said one of her relatives suspects her assailant may have been showing her fellow male deputies how tough she could be. If that’s the case, how many other former jailers with such contempt for other humans are now patrolling the mass transit system?

We also suggest Metro begin the process of seeking out a different law enforcement agency or a private security firm to provide protection for riders on our public transit system — one that is accountable and isn’t under federal investigation for violating the civil rights of inmates and citizens alike.

And travelers, in the meantime, whatever you do, keep that boarding pass handy. The $1.50 fare is not worth your life, which, as we’ve learned, could ultimately be threatened as punishment for riding the Gold Line without a ticket.


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WAY BACK IN THE DAY (after Adam boned Eve but before toilet paper was invented ...) I was doing my senior year of high school in Frankfurt Germany (circa 1974-75). In the midst of that Cold War, I was introduced to a truly first-class system of public transit.

Frankfurt's infrastructure of "light-rail" was (already in that still-post-WWII rebuild) extensively integrated with a bus system that provided transportation to almost anywhere one wanted to go, EVEN adjacent to the Frankfurt Flughafen, where my family was stationed at Rein Mein Air Base, which shared runways with Frankfurt am Main's international airport (maybe L.A. will, in our post-apocalype-someday, accomplish a similar brand of light-rail service with LAX).

The ticketing system then/there was much like what the Metro Rail system now has. But for ticket-buyers compliance? Well, they had no uniformed jackboots lounging around as an ass-kicking threat. Instead (as I had observed several times), older grandmotherly types would (after a train started moving) produce official ID and then periodically start checking the tickets of passengers. If a particular person had no ticket? Then Grandma would write them a citation right there! Subsequently, life went on. Fortunately for the greater good, she never threatened to feel anybody up.

The method of enforcement currently being used by Los Angeles County and the Metro Rail is specifically intended to give our local jackboots the opportunity to funtionally abase the entire local population and get them used to living in a police state.

(read Below)

posted by DanD on 9/13/12 @ 11:12 a.m.

(from above)

In the end, the focus is not law-enforcement, but instead is economics. Industry in America, to an ever-increasingly greater extent, is gone. About the only source of revenue left for our HomelandSecurity autocrats to finance their LE gangbanging subordinates with is whatever they can steal or otherwise extort out of our nation's terroristically frightened community.

Unfortunately for all of America's retro-freedom fighters, as the general public gets more and more used to being treated like Carla was abused, the jackboots have to perpetually ratchet up their own violence just to continue suppressing the average lover-of-liberty's predisposition to fight back against the malicious conduct of the code-enforcement machine.

This is mostly why the Sheriffs Dept initially trains all its recruits at a prison! It is mostly there that they first learn to treat their human herds of crime-cattle (over at Twin-Towers) like pond-scum ... because this is how they're eventually going to have to do it for the rest of their lives against an enemy/public in order to continue being compensated for their daily bread. America's law enforcement community truly does then become a "special-chosen" people.

And right now? While only BarryHo -- as president -- can summarily assassinate American Citizens devoid of a judicial due process, eventually (in a sooner-than-near than we could ever want) that same power will be granted to all other "public-service" executives ... right down to the dog-catcher. Tyranny has always reverted to a ponzi-scheme brand of violent authority that eventually implodes upon itself. We are now living in a fascist, Newest-Age version of the Haves-and-the-Have-nots. As the Have-nots become more numerous, the Haves get increasingly isolated.

Soon enough, Jackboot City's "AGAINST THE WALL" will be replaced with, "BEND-EM AND SPREAD-EM!"

But that's after they finish disarming the population ... if "they" can.


posted by DanD on 9/13/12 @ 11:13 a.m.

By making them spend their first years in L.A. County's gangbanger prison complex, they are as much in prison as are the (freelance) gangbangers. Ultimately? L.A. County's Sheriff's Deputies first learn to practice law-enforcement gangbanger style.

It's also where they learn how to (contemptuously) treat the non-gangbanging population.


posted by DanD on 9/17/12 @ 06:16 p.m.

I have commuted almost daily on the gold line since it opened in 2003. I have seem scores of people detained for failing to produce a ticket. I have never seen anything close to an encounter such as this. The most force I have seen was pepper spraying a clearly combative young man. I do not question whether this encounter occurred as described, but do not see it as anything more than an extremely rare occurrence that does not mandate a removal of the sheriff from gold line security.

posted by the truth on 9/22/12 @ 08:17 a.m.

First of all, I ride the train and I have seen numerous people detained for all kinds of reasons without incident. They accept their tickets and go on their way. By her own account, Ms. Sameth attempted to debate with the officers. She was naive and did not realize that when detained by officers she is required by law to submit to their orders.

Uhrich has exaggerated the facts by stating that Ms. Sameth was "beaten" for merely being unable to produce her ticket. This is a not what happened, even by Ms. Sameth's account. She protested being detained, by her own account (see the comments she made in her article), and she was not beaten. Her nose was broken (either by accident or intent--we'll never know) when she, by her own account, resisted the deputy's search of her person. And you erroneously make it sound like fare evasion, a violation of the Penal Code which after several offenses results in jail time, is the same as a parking violation.

Get the facts straight for a more credible story.

posted by PWReader on 10/17/12 @ 07:36 a.m.
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