Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies charged with covering up excessive force

“There is no place in law enforcement for officers who use illegal force and then lie to cover up their crime or the crime of another officer.”

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Accused of hitting a suspect with a car door and later covering up the assault, two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies were recently charged each with one felony count of filing a false report. One of the deputies also faces one felony count of assault under the color of authority.

At 6:17 p.m. on September 19, 2018, the East Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station received a call reporting suspects in a black BMW asking pedestrians what gang they were from and aiming a gun at them. Deputies located the vehicle and pursued it into Salazar Park.

According to a press release from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD), Hector Martinez, 18, immediately fled from the parked vehicle before the driver, Rene Herrera, 39, exited the BMW and opened fire on the deputies.

One deputy was shot in the upper chest, while another received a bullet wound to the jaw. Both later recovered from their wounds.

Herrera and a passenger named Fernando Cruz, 18, were shot to death.

As Martinez attempted to run away before the gunfight began, deputies Woodrow Kim and Jonathan Miramontes pursued him in their vehicle. When approaching Martinez, Deputy Kim allegedly opened his driver’s side door and struck the teen with it.

In an attempt to cover up Kim’s use of excessive force, both deputies made false statements in their arrest report, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. On Wednesday, Kim was charged with one felony count of assault under the color of authority and one felony count of filing a false report, while Miramontes faces one felony count of filing a false report.

“Peace officers must do their job lawfully and truthfully,” District Attorney Gascón said in a recent statement. “There is no place in law enforcement for officers who use illegal force and then lie to cover up their crime or the crime of another officer.”

According to the LASD, Kim and Miramontes have been relieved of duty.

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