The Los Angeles County sheriff’s captain who ran the Men’s Central Jail fostered a culture of brutality by protecting dishonest deputies and permitting his underlings to use excessive force on inmates, his former lieutenant has alleged in testimony, the Los Angeles Times reports. Capt. Daniel Cruz joked at the department’s annual Christmas party about hitting inmates, according to Michael Bornman, now a department captain.
Bornman testified before the county commission created to address allegations of brutality inside the sheriff’s jails. He told the commission that as a result of Cruz’s 2009 comments, he avoided the department’s Christmas party the next year. At that party, violence broke out among deputies, including several who had allegedly formed a gang-like jailer clique. Bornman’s testimony, along with that of another captain, painted a picture of a dysfunctional department whose supervisors are reluctant to address deputies’ misconduct and are sometimes antagonistic toward those who do. Last year, Cruz was relieved of duty as internal investigators probe his tenure at the helm of the downtown Los Angeles jail.