2 ex-LA sheriff’s deputies face federal civil rights charges


LOS ANGELES (AP) – Two former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies are accused of violating the civil rights of a skateboarder in 2020 and perpetrating a coverup, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

A grand jury handed down the indictment last month, and both ex-deputies surrendered to authorities Thursday when it was unsealed.

Miguel Vega and Christopher Hernandez allegedly threw the skateboarder – identified as “J.A.” in court papers – in the back of their cruiser and detained him without cause April 13, 2020, in Compton. He was still in the patrol vehicle when they then engaged in a pursuit and crashed the car, injuring the skateboarder. Prosecutors say the duo then conspired to coverup the then-23-year-old man’s unlawful detention.

Vega, 32, and Hernandez, 37, are charged with conspiracy, deprivation of rights under color of law, witness tampering and falsification of records. Vega is charged with another falsification of records count. Their attorneys did not respond to an emailed request for comment Thursday.

The same ex-deputies were involved in the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old man later that year during a foot chase. Authorities say Vega shot Andres Guardado shot five times in the back after the deputies chased him on foot. Guardado’s killing sparked protests, and his family settled a lawsuit with the county for $8 million.

The federal indictment was first reported Thursday by the Los Angeles Times. Vega and Hernandez are scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon.

The deputies remained on active duty until December 2020, the LA Times reported.

“The indictment alleges that these two deputies violated a young person’s constitutional rights by willfully and illegally detaining him without just cause,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a news release. “Officers who abuse their power must be held accountable, and my Office is committed to prosecuting violations of civil rights by those who violate their oaths and victimize those who they were sworn to protect.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department did not immediately have a comment after the indictment was unsealed.


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