4 more L.A. County probation officers put on leave

Four L.A. County probation officers have been placed on leave in connection with “youth-on-youth violence” inside a Downey detention facility, officials announced Friday.

The discipline comes after eight officers working at Los Padrinos juvenile hall were placed on leave for allowing a group of youths to beat up a teen in December. The involvement of four more sworn peace officers may indicate that troubling incidents of guards being present while youths assault each other are more widespread than previously known.

L.A. County Probation Department Chief Guillermo Viera Rosa said the discipline against the four additional officers, which occurred after an internal review, was “part of a comprehensive push to root out departmental staff responsible for perpetrating a culture of violence, drugs, or abuse in County juvenile institutions.”

“My commitment to dig deeper into potential wrongdoing, to take immediate action, and to publicly disclose my actions should make it clear that we will not tolerate anything that creates or contributes to a culture of violence in our juvenile facilities,” Viera Rosa said in a news release, while offering no specifics on what occurred.

The incidents have been turned over to the California attorney general’s office to investigate, according to the Probation Department.

The Times obtained footage of the December incident earlier this month showing at least six youths assaulting a 17-year-old while guards stand by, laughing and at one point shaking hands with an assailant. The 17-year-old sustained a broken nose, according to his public defender, Sherrie Albin.

The video raises the question of whether the violence was coordinated, with one county supervisor calling the conduct “organized fights.”

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