Judge Rules Sheriff Will Remain Defendant in Skateboarder's Lawsuit

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A skateboarder won a round in court today when a judge ruled that Sheriff Alex Villanueva will remain a defendant in the

plaintiff's lawsuit claiming he was falsely imprisoned by two deputies allegedly associated with an internal clique at the Compton station known as the Executioners.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Linfield denied a motion by Villanueva's attorneys to dismiss a supervisory liability allegation in plaintiff Jesus Alegria's suit, the only claim in the case against the sheriff.

Alegria's suit also names as defendants Deputies Miguel Vega and Christopher Hernandez, who he alleges were "prospects" of the deputy clique known as the Executioners. The group casts innocent people as street gang members and sometimes brutalizes, shoots and kills them, then claims the actions were in self-defense, the suit alleges.

Vega shot and killed 18-year-old Andres Guardado near Gardena last June 18, sparking community protests and triggering the first coroner's office inquest conducted in Los Angeles County in more than 30 years, which upheld a previous conclusion by the office that his death was a homicide. Hernandez was present when Guardado was shot five times in the back, but did not fire at him.

Attorneys for Villanueva argued in their court papers that there was no evidence the sheriff received reports regarding the Executioners or deputies Vega or Hernandez before the incident involving Alegria.

However, the judge noted that Alegria's lawyers alleged in their court papers that Villanueva "acquiesced in deputy gangs" within the Sheriff's Department.

"Plaintiff sufficiently alleges that defendant Villanueva, even though not directly involved in the constitutional deprivations, can be liable in his individual capacity for his acquiescence in the constitutional deprivations stemming from the deputy gangs that resulted in plaintiff's harm," the judge wrote in his ruling.

Attorney Humberto Guizar, on behalf of Alegria, said after the hearing that five attorneys represented the defendants at the hearing.

"That's taxpayer money that they're wasting," Guizar said.

Alegria, then 23, was riding his skateboard at Wilson Park in Compton last Aug. 23 when Vega and Hernandez arrived and began harassing some of the younger patrons at the park, according to the suit filed Jan. 15 against Los Angeles County, Villanueva, Vega and Hernandez.

Alegria spoke in defense of the bullied patrons and asked the deputies to leave them alone, according to the suit. Vega then grabbed Alegria by the wrists and put him in the back of an LASD SUV, the suit says.

"Defendants Vega and Hernandez drove away from Wilson Park with (Alegria) in the back of their squad vehicle with the intent of setting up (Alegria) in gang territory in order to be beaten and/or killed," the lawsuit alleges.

Vega and Hernandez encountered a group of unarmed 12- to 15-year-olds riding bicycles during the drive and Vega drove toward them as if he was going to run over them, the suit alleges. Hernandez got out of the SUV and chased the boys while Vega, trying to drive after one boy on a bicycle, crashed into a wall, a parked car and a metal fence, according to the suit.

"Plaintiff began bleeding and sustained bodily injuries as a result of the crash caused by defendant Vega," the suit alleges.

Vega allowed Alegria to leave the SUV, but the plaintiff was subsequently put in another SUV and arrested by another deputy in order to cover up the actions of Vega and Hernandez, the suit alleges. The plaintiff was never charged with a crime, according to his court papers.

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