Prosecutors drop cruelty case against ex-LASD sergeant


Prosecutors dismissed a case of alleged cruelty filed against a former sergeant of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, remaining tight-lipped about the reasons and circumstances behind the decision.

David J. Moser, 53, was one of three former sworn officers charged on May 16, 2016, with cruelty to a  prisoner at the Pitchess Detention Center.

Last month, on March 5, prosecutors with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s dismissed the case against Moser, Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the DA told The Signal Monday.

The two other defendants charged with cruelty in the same incident — James Hawkins, 35,  and 63-year-old Rex Taylor, now retired — are scheduled to appear in court at the Santa Clarita Courthouse next week for a readiness hearing, he said.

A “readiness hearing” is a hearing called to ascertain the readiness of the trial to proceed to the allocated trial date.

“The case against Moser was dismissed. The case involving Hawkins and Taylor is pending,” DA spokesman Greg Risling said Wednesday.

When pressed for more information about the dismissal, Risling said: “The case was dismissed in the interest of justice. We cannot comment further.”

The three men were arrested Sept. 9, 2015, by the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau. Each posted bail within a couple of hours of their arrest, according to arrest documents maintained by the LASD’s Inmate Information Center.

Their arrests happened shortly after investigators began looking at the practice of tethering inmates.

The Office of Inspector General began reviewing the LASD’s policy on “tethering” – or the jail practice of restraining inmates to fixed structure. Investigators released their report in June 2016.

Their review was initiated after LASD Sheriff Jim McDonnell was notified of a “disturbing” incident that happened in July 2015 in which a prisoner had been restrained for about 32 hours without food, only one cup of water, and no opportunity to use the restroom, according to the report.

McDonnell relieved 10 jail personnel of duty, including two lieutenants, one sergeant, one senior deputy, four deputies and two custody assistants. A number of other jail staffers were reassigned.

This case, however, was not an isolated incident, the report found.

The Inspector General ended up examining four jailhouse incidents, including the one at the Pitchess Detention Center’s North County Correctional Facility on Sept. 4, 2014, which ultimately led to three LASD officers being arrested on suspicion of cruelty.

The incident allegedly began when a prisoner detained at the jail was suspected of concealing contraband in his rectum, according to the report.

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