The complaint from the family of Darrell Logan Jr. does not explicitly link his death to racist officers, but it does cite the neo-Nazi cop gang the Vikings, its offshoot the Regulators, and “other gang-type cliques.”
The family claims that such gangs are “tolerated and ratified by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.”
Logan’s family sued Los Angeles County and Does 1-100 for battery, wrongful death, and civil rights violations.
The complaint claims that Logan, 32, of Palmdale, was killed on Oct. 13, 2011, when Los Angeles County deputies, allegedly without a warrant, entered the garage of his home.
“Darrell and another man were inside the garage. Deputies ordered the two men to raise their hands,” the complaint states. “Darrell and the other man complied with the officers’ verbal instructions and raised their hands. Darrell did not threaten the officers in any manner. Darrell was unarmed and not in possession of any weapon. However, the officers opened fire. Darrell was shot approximately eleven times. The vast majority of the shots were in his back, including a number of fatal shots.”
According to the Antelope Valley Times, a coroner’s autopsy report revealed that Logan was shot five times in the back, once in the back of the head, once in the buttocks, twice in the back of his legs, and once in his right hand. The report found that a bullet to his left knee came from an “unknown direction”.
Logan’s wife, Krystle Washington, told a reporter that before deputies arrived Logan had fired a gun once into the air.
Steve Whitmore, spokesman for L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, told Courthouse News that he was not aware of the allegations but said: “Lawsuits only tell part of the story. We look forward to telling the whole story.”
The complaint notes several instances in which Los Angeles deputies have used excessive force against minorities, most recently in January, when officers allegedly shot and killed an unarmed Hispanic man named Christian Cobain, who was riding a bicycle.
In an April 20 story headlined “Secret Clique in L.A. County Sheriff’s Gang Unit Probed,” the Los Angeles Times reported: “Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives have launched a probe into what appears to be a secret deputy clique within the department’s elite gang unit, an investigation triggered by the discovery of a document suggesting the group embraces shootings as a badge of honor.”
The clique is called the Jump Out Boys, the Times reported, calling the “document” being investigated is a “pamphlet” that “explains that deputies earn admission into the group through the endorsement of members.”
Logan’s family says in their complaint: “The actions of defendants in violating civil rights is so widespread and frequent as to cause a wide spread custom, pattern and practice within the Sheriff’s Department of tolerating, ratifying and condoning excessive force particularly against Latinos and African Americans.
In a separate, federal complaintin December 2011, Francisco Carrillo Jr., who spent 20 years in prison for a drive-by killing he did not commit, claimed he was framed by a branch of the Vikings gang, known as the “Lynwood Vikings.”
Carrillo also sued Los Angeles County and Deputy Craig Ditsch, allegedly a member of the Vikings, who fingered him for the drive-by shooting and murder of Donald Sarpy in early 1991. Carrillo was 16 at the time.
U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter exposed the sheriff’s gang the year that Sarpy was killed, according to Logan’s family. Members of the gang identified themselves with a tattoo that included a picture of a smoking gun, the lawsuit states.
A commission headed by former Superior Court Judge James Kolts “urged eradication of such groups” but more racist gangs, such as the Regulators, were formed, according to the Logan family’s complaint.
They claim that initiation into both the Vikings and the Regulators “was often conditioned upon involvement in officer-involved shootings,” and that such gangs “are prevalent inside the Department.”
“The existence and activities of gang cliques are tolerated and ratified by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department,” the complaint states. “Undersheriff Paul Tanaka is a tattooed member of the Vikings. On or about 1989, Tanaka shot and killed an unarmed suspect in the back. Similarly, Tanaka’s close friend, an Assistant Sheriff, has personally been involved in two fatal shootings of suspects in the back. Tanaka has protected, and enabled the existence, of deputy-gang cliques, encouraging members to work in the ‘grey.’ Members of this clique are often promoted ahead of other deputies and have access to some of the highest ranking members in the Sheriff s Department.”
Tanaka is not a party to the complaint.
Logan’s estate, his father, mother, his child and the child’s mother are represented by Terry Goldberg with Goldberg & Gage of Woodland Hills, which did not respond to a request for comment.
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