Los Angeles, CA — For years, LA County juvenile detention centers have been under Department of Justice monitoring because of overcrowding and excessive force used on children. However, as a newly released video from inside LA County Probation’s Sylmar Juvenile Hall shows, the federal oversight has accomplished nothing.
Celeste Fremon, editor of WitnessLA, said she obtained the four-minute video from sources inside the probation department. The disturbing video captures the beating of a teenage inmate by multiple prison guards — while the supervisor stands by and watches.
According to Fremon, the video is taken from what appears to be a ceiling-mounted camera. In the beginning of the recording, only the supervising officer and the boy are present. He and the tall probationer are several feet apart and the supervisor appears to be instructing the kid. (The video is a bootleg of the original, thus has no sound.) The probationer does not appear to be behaving in any way that is aggressive, threatening or combative. But, presumably, there is some verbal conflict between the two. As the supervisor talks, the man conspicuously rolls up the sleeves of his shirt in what several of our probation sources who have seen the video labeled a threatening gesture.
While the video is silent, it illustrates the entirely unprovoked violent response from four grown men beating a teen. The alleged reason for the response from guards was over the teen throwing a balled up piece of paper and another unidentified object at the door. However, as the video clearly shows, the boy with a cast on his arm is not a threat to anyone as his cell was empty before the beating.
When the officers enter the room, only a few seconds pass before all hell breaks loose as one officer, entirely unprovoked, tackles the teen from behind, slamming him down into the concrete bunk in the cell. After slamming him down, the officer unleashes blow after blow into the boy’s body. The supervisor in the room does nothing to stop it.
As the first officer continues his assault, two other officers pile on and begin to punch and throw knees into the boy. Seconds later, yet another officer enters and piles on. For several moments, four officers deliver blow after blow while taking turns holding him down.
Approximately 60 seconds into the beating another supervisor walks in, witnesses the assault for a few seconds, then turns and walks out. He never attempted to stop it.
For nearly two minutes, the officers beat the boy while their supervisor watched until it suddenly ended. As if it was a routine response, the supervisor opened the door and made a shooing gesture. The officers then stood up, straightened up their clothes and walked out.
The boy is left in agony, hunched over the cement cot with his pants around his knees from being pulled down during the beating. He finally manages to get up to a seated position and then hunches over, apparently crying. As he attempts to walk, he quickly collapses in pain and lies on the floor.
According to Witness LA, a nurse came in to check on the boy some minutes after the five probation officers vanished from his room. Her entrance and time with the kid are on the extended version of the video, which we have not seen. Her ministrations were allegedly minimal. She swabbed the abrasions and swelling on his face, and the like. Then she reportedly left the room without a thorough check for injuries.
Later, however, the boy reportedly called for a staffer due to his pain, according to reports. The second staffer sent him to the hospital where, in addition to bruising, reported black eyes, bruises, swelling and abrasions, it is learned that he has a badly and painfully sprained ankle.
On Friday, the probation chief, Cal Remington, responded to the incident saying the department takes mistreatment of juveniles very seriously, reports ABC 7.
“We hold our staff to a very high standard. We have zero tolerance for mistreating the juveniles in our care. And while I can’t really comment on an ongoing investigation, this matter is being thoroughly investigated, and we take matters of this nature very, very seriously,” he stated.
As Freemon pointed out, “there is no reason for this kind of force – ever, under any circumstances, even if you have a riot.”