Case dismissed against former LASD officer accused of cruelty


After a jury failed to reach a decision last week in the case of alleged inmate cruelty filed against a former sworn officer of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the judge dismissed the single charge filed against him.

James Hawkins, 35, had been charged with cruel punishment impairing health.

On Aug. 7,  after three days of deliberation, jurors informed the judge that they were unable to reach a verdict on the charge against Hawkins.

At that point, the lawyer defending Hawkins filed a motion to have the case against his client dismissed.

“A judge granted a defense motion to dismiss the count against Hawkins,” Greg Risling, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.

Hawkins was one of three former LASD officers arrested Sept. 9, 2015, by the LASD Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau.

A week ago, on Aug. 7, jurors acquitted 63-year-old Rex Taylor.

On March 5, prosecutors dismissed their case against former LASD Sgt. David J. Moser, 53.

The three men were arrested 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 a fixed structure. Investigators released their report in June 2016.

Their review was initiated after Sheriff Jim McDonnell was notified of an 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, including Hawkins. 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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