Mom Says L.A. Gives Abusive Deputies a Pass

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Los Angeles County lets domestic abusers off the hook if they work for the Sheriff’s Department, a mother with two daughters claims in Federal Court.
     Elizabeth Chavira sued the county and five deputies, including her ex-boyfriend, on behalf of herself and her two daughters.
     “Repeatedly, the courts and law enforcement give breaks to law enforcement officers when they engage in domestic violence and repeatedly the officers continue to engage in violence against women and children,” the complaint states. “Defendant Antonio Ramirez (‘A. Ramirez’) is one such individual. He is employed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department notorious for its violent and corrupt jails and the violence and racism of the deputy sheriffs on the streets of Los Angeles County.”
     Ramirez, the father of her two daughters, who are 11 and 6, began abusing her in 2003, Chavira says in the complaint.
     She and he “separated for a time and Chavira moved back in with him, at which time he resumed his pattern of heavy drinking, screaming, and battering of Chavira. The children often witnessed the violence. The violence witnessed by [11-year-old] C.R. has caused her grave mental and emotional injuries, affecting her schooling,” the complaint states.
     Chavira claims: “The sheriff’s department and other police departments have engaged in a pattern of denial of equal police services and repeated failures to carry out their mandated duties they owe to victims of domestic violence with respect to Chavira.”
     Chavira says she called the police on Ramirez many times during their troubled relationship, but no one ever arrested him or told his supervisors he was “terrorizing” Chavira and her daughters.
     She claims Ramirez’s fellow deputies even helped him kick her out of their jointly owned house after she called to report him for domestic violence.
     One morning in April 2012, Chavira says, Ramirez started yelling and screaming at her for leaving a breakfast sandwich in the toaster oven while she changed and got the girls ready for church. After dumping a pot of coffee in the trash, he “grabbed Chavira and twisted her wrist and threw her Mexican sandwich into the trash,” the complaint states.
     When Chavira threatened to call police, Ramirez said, “Go ahead, they will not believe you, and you will be the one arrested, you’ll see,” the complaint states.
     Chavira claims she called defendant Lt. J. Chavez, who had worked with Ramirez for six years.
     “Chavira described what had happened and to please help and to send someone. As A. Ramirez heard her phone call he began to chase her to take the phone away from her, and Chavira told Lt. Chavez please send someone on her behalf he is trying to take the phone from me,” the complaint states.
     Chavez sent defendant sheriff’s Office Debbie Gallegos, who spoke with Ramirez first and then asked to speak to Chavira, according to the complaint. Chavira claims she initially refused to give a statement because she thought Gallegos would side with Ramirez, but when Gallegos insisted she would be fair, Chavira told her about the incident that morning and Ramirez’s “history of abuse.”
     Chavira claims Gallegos “became defensive” after hearing her story and told her that if she filed a report, Chavira could go to jail and lose her children, because Ramirez claimed she hit him in the face with the sandwich, “and that’s battery.”
     Chavira claims she begged Gallegos to get statements from her daughters, but Gallegos refused, and told her to “stop acting like the victim, if you supposedly endured all this abuse, why would you subject yourself to the abuse and still liv[e] here?”
     Chavira claims Gallegos forced her to pack up and move out under threat of arrest. She says Gallegos never wrote a report about the incident, failed to determine who was the primary aggressor, “and instead chose to believe her good buddy and fellow colleague a deputy sheriff.”
     Chavira claims this incident was just one of many. She claims Ramirez hit her in the eye with a book, drove recklessly while driving drunk with her in the car, and refused to take a daughter to the hospital after she broke her arm.
     Chavira claims the only official who helped her was a captain at the City of Industry station where Ramirez worked, who apologized for his deputy’s behavior, gave her $100 for her daughters and promised to open investigations for domestic violence and child abuse.
     Chavira claims she and her daughters have suffered severe injuries and emotional distress, and are homeless because the county courts refuse to punish Ramirez for abusing them.
     She seeks declaratory judgment, an injunction and damages for gender violence, assault and battery, and constitutional violations.
     She is represented by Patricia J. Barry.
     Here are the defendants: Los Angeles County, and its sheriff’s Officer Antonio Ramirez, Lt. J. Chavez, Debbie Gallegos, Joseph Hernandez, and Jose Ramirez.

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