LOS ANGELES (CN) - A man who spent 20 years in prison for a drive-by killing he did not commit says he was framed by "a known neo-Nazi, white supremacist police gang" within the L.A. Sheriff's Department, known as the "Lynwood Vikings."
Francisco Carrillo Jr. also sued Craig Ditsch, the sheriff's deputy who allegedly fingered him for the drive-by shooting and murder of Donald Sarpy in early 1991. Carrillo was 16 at the time.
"Mr. Carrillo spent 20 years in prison as a result of the actions of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies. The deputies' created a false identification of Mr. Carrillo which was adopted by each of the six eyewitnesses. Without the deputies' wrongful, unconstitutional conduct, Mr. Carrillo would not have been arrested or convicted for the Sarpy murder; he would not have spent 20 years in prison. The deputies' conduct violated Mr. Carrillo's civil and constitutional rights.
"In addition, the polices and customs of the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department, in particular relating to the conduct of deputies belonging to an internal gang in the Sheriffs Department named the 'Lynwood Vikings,' a known neo-Nazi, white supremacist police gang whose members routinely violated the constitutional rights of minority residents in Lynwood, and the lack of supervision of its officers, were motivating forces behind the violations of Mr. Carrillo's rights. As a result of these actions, Mr. Carrillo was deprived of the one thing all innocent people deserve: freedom," according to the federal complaint.
The 31-page complaint describes Sarpy's murder: "On a Friday evening, January 18, 1991, in Lynwood, California, six African-American teenagers aged 15 to 18 were gathered at the south curb line near the front of 4220 Lugo Avenue. At approximately 7:00 p.m., well after dark, one of the boys' father, Donald Sarpy, began walking from his house to where the boys were gathered. As Mr. Sarpy approached the boys, an automobile drove slowly past the group. When the car had passed the group and was at least several houses away, the front passenger leaned out of the window with a handgun and fired in the direction of the group. One of the bullets hit Mr. Sarpy, and he died a few hours later at the hospital."
At the time of the murder, witnesses and the police knew of a gang rivalry between a Hispanic gang, Young Crowd, and an African-American gang, Neighborhood Crips, also known as "N-Hood." According to witnesses, someone in the car shouted, "fuck N-Hood" as the shots were fired, while another witness heard someone say, "Young Crowd Locos."
Carrillo had identified with the Young Crowd gang after seventh grade until the end of the ninth grade, but says his "identification came more from living in the Young Crowd territory than from participating in any illegal activities."
At the time of his arrest on Jan. 24, 1991, he had no criminal convictions and according to the complaint there was no evidence he had ever owned a gun, let alone fired one.
Nevertheless, after interviewing one of the eyewitnesses, Scott Turner, 16, the police had their man.
That, according to Carrillo, was due to the deeds of Deputy Ditsch, a member of Lynwood Vikings: "A police gang within the Lynwood sub-station that had a practice of violating the rights of citizens under their jurisdiction, particularly minority residents."