Deputies Seen Dropping Off Homeless Man

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Sheriff's officials said in remarks published today that two sheriff's deputies seen on video dropping off a homeless man in San Pedro were ``performing an act of compassionate service'' by taking him to a bus stop at his request and were not ``dumping'' him, as alleged by the person who shot the video.

``This call is not a case of dumping,'' Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida told the Los Angeles Times.

The footage, which was shot about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, prompted Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino to call on the sheriff's department to investigate the matter.

Buscaino, who represents the San Pedro area, showed the video on a large screen inside the council chamber during the City Council's regular meeting Wednesday and also posted it to his YouTube and Facebook accounts. The councilman said the man was a ``clear 5150 patient'' -- the term refers to an involuntary psychiatric hold -- and that the incident occurred a few blocks over the border from Rancho Palos Verdes, which is patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

The video shows two parked sheriff's vehicles on West 25th Street in San Pedro and begins with the man, who appears disheveled and looks as if he is talking to himself, already standing on the sidewalk near an open door of one of the LASD vehicles, and the person shooting the video from a balcony can be heard saying that the deputies just let the man out of the car.

``This was appalling, disturbing and disgusting, and this individual was taken into LAPD custody two blocks down after a call for service was generated by a San Pedro resident,'' Buscaino said. The man was taken into custody on a fare-evasion warrant, The Times reported.

Buscaino's motion states that if substantiated, the actions of the deputies jeopardized the safety of residents and resulted in an additional cost to Los Angeles taxpayers.

Nishida said the man did not exhibit any danger to himself or others, was not gravely disabled and had not committed a crime, The Times reported.

``The deputies asked him if he needed any help. He only expressed that he wanted a ride,'' she said.

According to Nishida, the man had an MTA pass and asked to be dropped off at a convenience store a couple of blocks from the bus stop. She said the deputies checked to see if the man had any outstanding warrants but decided not to arrest him because ``such a minor violation'' as fare evasion ``does not meet the minimum threshold for a Sheriff's Department incarceration due to jail overcrowding.''

Buscaino questioned the deputies' explanation and told The Times, ``I drove a police car for 15 years and never taxied anyone to their destination, especially to another jurisdiction... And especially a subject that was gravely disabled and had a warrant.''

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