Family Alleges Misconduct in Inmate’s Death

Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News

image The family of Jorge Rosales gathered outside the Twin Towers Jail in Los Angeles today to mourn and call for justice.

The family filed a wrongful death claim against the county of Los Angeles and Sheriff Lee Baca on Tuesday. The claim alleges that the October 6 death of the 18-year-old was the result of injuries inflicted by a Sheriff’s deputy two days prior.

Rosales’s mother Maria says she received a call from her son two days before his death. Rosales told her he’d been injured and was not receiving the medical care he needed.

Attorney Luis Carrillo says Rosales was facing robbery charges out of a Compton court, but had not gone to trial. His unexpected death leaves his family looking for answers.

“I can’t believe what happened to my brother,” Oscar Rosales said. “I’m lost. I really want to know what is the truth and what is the cause of his death.”

“This is something that nobody should go through,” said Jorge’s twin sister Maria. “They should pay for what they did. It’s not going to bring back my brother, but I just want nobody to go through this–that’s all.”

Michael Gennaco, who heads the Sheriff’s watchdog agency, says that Rosales was punched in the head by a deputy when he made a break for an elevator.

The agency released a report today, emphasizing the difficulties of investigating misconduct.

“We talked about some of the challenges of proving that excessive force has occurred or even disproving that is has occurred because of the limitations on evidence available in a jail setting,” Gennaco said.

The claim by the Rosales family is one of many recent public allegations of abuse and misconduct in L.A. County jail system.

The ACLU called for Baca’s resignation last month after releasing a report with sworn declarations from eyewitnesses who said they’d seen deputies use unnecessary force on inmates.

The FBI has been investigating this very issue in L.A. County prisons. Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that a Sheriff’s rookie quit his job after he was forced to beat a non-violent, mentally-disabled inmate.

Baca announced Sunday the formation of a task force to investigate the 78 allegations of abuse in the county jail system.

A spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Department said Baca was not commenting on the Rosales case at this time.

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