DOJ says Veterans Affairs police officer struck man with baton 45 times at medical center

DOJ says Veterans Affairs police officer struck man with baton 45 times at medical center

Thao Nguyen
 USA TODAYplayShow CaptionHide Caption#videoDetailsToggle{color:var( –color-dove-gray,rgba(0,0,0,.6));cursor:pointer;display:inline-block;font-family:var(–sans-serif,sans-serif);font-size:var(–type-7);font-weight:var( –font-weight-bold,900);line-height:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px);margin-bottom:-8px}#vdt_hide{margin-bottom:10px}.vdt-flex[hidden]{display:none}.vdt-svg{fill:var( –color-dove-gray,rgba(0,0,0,.6));height:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px);width:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px)}Army veteran attempts to recover after for-profit school closureKendrick Harrison was close to getting his degree from Argosy University in Las Vegas, but the school shut down, leaving him and hundreds behind.Brian Munoz, USA TODAY

An officer with the Veterans Affairs Police Department was indicted on civil rights and assault charges that claim he used a department-issued baton to strike a restrained man dozens of times at a VA medical center in California, the Justice Department announced.

Juan Anthony Carrillo, 45, was indicted by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Thursday, according to the Justice Department. Carrillo faces charges of deprivation of rights under color of law resulting in bodily injury and assault with a dangerous weapon with the intent to do bodily harm.

The charges stem from his “excessive use of force” in a Jan. 16, 2022 incident where Carrillo allegedly beat a man about 45 times in 41 seconds at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, the Justice Department said. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

“The excessive use of force alleged in the indictment is disturbing and not representative of the high standards and restraint practiced by the overwhelming majority of police officers,” Donald Alway, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, said in a statement. “The FBI is committed to protecting individual civil rights in the United States and will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, including the Veterans Affairs Police Department, to identify and investigate alleged civil rights abuses.”

Read More:   Biden attends the dignified transfer at Dover for service members killed in Jordan

Carrillo will be arraigned in the U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles, according to the Justice Department. The FBI, the VA’s Office of Inspector General, and the VA’s Office of Security and Law Enforcement investigating the incident.

The indictment is the latest incident of suspected police brutality among VA police.

In 2019, VA officials were questioned by lawmakers at a hearing regarding the VA police’s use of force — citing several cases where people were violently threatened by officers. The hearing followed a 2018 investigation of the VA police force by the agency’s inspector general, which revealed mismanagement issues among thousands of officers.

COVID DEATHS AT VA HOMES: Justice Department slams New Jersey over COVID deaths at veterans homes, residents still at high risk

VA officer struck victim up to 45 times, officials say

On Jan. 16, 2022, a 34-year-old man identified in the indictment as “R.V.” was detained by another VA officer at around 4:00 a.m. at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, according to the Justice Department.

The indictment said Carrillo responded to the incident to assist the other officer and proceeded to strike R.V. with a department-issued baton up to 45 times in about 41 seconds. The majority of the baton strikes occurred while the other officer was restraining R.V.

The indictment added Carrillo was about 60 pounds heavier than R.V. and the other officer was about 8 inches taller and 85 pounds heavier than the victim.

R.V. sustained several injuries, including bleeding and lacerations on both his legs, according to the Justice Department, which also claims that Carrillo prepared a misleading incident report “to justify his use of force.”

Read More:   Homeland Security will investigate cause of AT&T outage White House says

“Carrillo’s report misleadingly and falsely claimed that victim R.V. was violently kicking his legs and refusing to show his hands, while also omitting the number of strikes defendant Carrillo used,” according to the indictment.

SUICIDE HOTLINE INVESTIGATION: Service botched veteran’s cry for help. An investigation found critical breakdowns

Department of Veterans Affairs investigation

The Department of Veterans Affairs employs about 5,000 police officers who are responsible for patrolling and securing the VA’s nearly 170 medical centers nationwide, according to a 2020 Government Accountability Office report.

The report found that the VA still needed to improve its risk management policy and oversight process, including the VA’s data collection on the use of force.

“In September 2020, GAO reported that VA’s records of use of force incidents were not complete or accurate,” the report said. “For example, GAO found that 176 out of 1,214 use of force incident reports did not include the specific type of force used. Further, VA did not track incidents by individual medical centers.”

The GAO’s recommendation followed reported use-of-force incidents and the VA inspector general’s investigation in 2018 that concluded the agency failed to manage its police force — resulting in short-staffing and millions in overtime charged to taxpayers, among other issues.

VA police officers have been accused of threatening and injuring people, including some fatal incidents. In 2018, USA TODAY reported on a case in Missouri where a veteran died after being tackled and detained by VA police.

Contributing: Donovan Slack, USA TODAY

html a.nsb-link,html .primary-content a.nsb-link{box-shadow:0 0;cursor:pointer;height:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px);margin-right:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px);text-shadow:none;width:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px)}a.nsb-link span{max-width:0;overflow:hidden;position:absolute;visibility:hidden}.nsb-svg{height:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px);width:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px)}.nsb-twitter-button{fill:var(–social-twitter,#4099ff)}.nsb-email-button{fill:var(–color-dove-gray,#787878)}.nsb-facebook-button{fill:var(–social-facebook,#3b5998)}.nsb-sms-button{fill:var(–color-ui-green,#008c33)}{fill:var(–color-ui-white,#fff)}FacebookTwitterEmail