Villanueva says SCV Sheriff’s Station incident can be resolved ‘without any criminal record’

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's station is implementing new measures to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic. March 17, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.
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The Aug. 7 incident in Canyon Country in which three teenagers were detained at gunpoint will be resolved without any criminal record, and actions taken by Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies are being addressed, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Wednesday. 

In an interview broadcast, holding what he said was the complete summary of the incident, Villanueva said the matter could soon reach a resolution with all parties involved. 

“We’re going to be able to resolve this, actually, without creating any criminal record for anybody involved, and I think that’s an important way we’re parting from past practice,” he said. “We’re going to have a meeting and try to get into a conference call with the district attorney, and we’ll sit down with all the parties, and I think we can iron this thing out.” 

On Aug. 7, three teenagers — two Black 16-year-olds and a white 18-year-old — were detained at gunpoint after deputies responded to initial reports of an alleged assault with a deadly weapon on an apparently homeless Hispanic man. Witnesses who video recorded law enforcement’s response, which included one deputy who held and pointed an AR-15 toward the teens, contended the teens were the victims of the assault. The teens were eventually let go and no charges were filed. 

After footage of the incident went viral, Santa Clarita city staff, county Supervisor Kathryn Barger and Villanueva called for an investigation. One of the deputies has since been removed from the field. 

He said the station received two calls within minutes of each other: the first was an 11-minute call from a man who said he witnessed a fight where two of the teenagers used a skateboard to hit a homeless man, which caused him to fall. The second call was from a manager at Buffalo Wild Wings, located near where the incident occurred on Soledad Canyon Road, and said she was unable to see the incident during the call but described the matter as males in the street fighting and later said a Hispanic man chased two Black teenagers. She did not mention any weapons or a knife used, according to Villanueva. 

“Now you can see, when the deputies arrived on the scene, they have caller No. 1 that had very detailed information and caller No. 2 had partial information, but at the scene, caller No. 2 was present, and you hear on the viral video, and that’s when that whole thing starts falling apart,” he said. 

On Wednesday, attorney Robert Stanford Brown, who is representing the three teenagers, said he was not aware of a possible meeting with the district attorney but was contacted by an SCV Sheriff’s Station official about a meeting with Villanueva. 

“I haven’t committed to any meeting because my clients are still shaken up,” he said via a phone interview. “Right now, I’m more focused on the investigation (Villanueva) said he was going to conduct. I’m eagerly waiting for those results; hopefully, there is a very comprehensive investigation.” 

He said he would like to see whether the results would show that racial profiling was a factor. Villanueva said Wednesday “this had nothing to do with race whatsoever.” 

“I think there were actions taken by both sides that were regrettable, and I think that they could have done better,” said Villanueva. “At the end of the day, no one was seriously hurt, everyone walked away, and I think we also learned that when you post a viral video you only get half the story.” 

Wednesday’s interview broadcast comes after Villanueva called last week for an investigation and in-depth review of the department’s patrol rifle-deployment policy and training. The sheriff did not indicate in either announcement whether he would publicly release the investigation’s findings. 

In a prepared statement last week, Barger said she asked L.A. County Inspector General Max Huntsman to share “his independent review of the results of the investigation with my office, city leaders and the community.” 

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