Compton station overrun by gangs, deputy claims

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Compton Mayor Aja Brown speaks at a press conference Aug. 4 in which she asked state and federal investigators to investigate the Compton Sheriff’s Station. (Courtesy photo)

By 2UrbanGirls, Contributing Writer

COMPTON — A deputy at the Compton Sheriff’s Station has filed a claim against the county in which he claims the station is overrun by gangs.

Mayor Aja Brown and Councilwomen Michelle Chambers, Tana McCoy and Emma Sharif were joined by City Attorney Damon Brown at a press conference Aug. 4 where they called on state and federal to investigate the station.

Deputy Austreberto Gonzalez anonymously reported a colleague to the department’s internal affairs unit and claims he has been harassed and retaliated since doing so.

Gonzalez alleges the Executioners, a band of deputies with matching tattoos, wields vast power at the Compton station. In his claim, the precursor to a lawsuit, he says members of the group sport tattoos of a skull with Nazi imagery and an AK-47 rifle. Members celebrate deputy shootings and the induction of new members with “inking parties.”

At the Aug. 4 press conference, Mayor Brown said she has been stopped for no reason while with her family in Compton.

“My family was pulled over by Compton deputies for proceeding forward and not stopping at the limit line,” Brown said. “My rights were violated and I was disrespected by deputies with no knowledge or respect for Compton residents.”

Brown said the deputies asked to search her car for drugs, even with her husband and young daughter in the car with her.

In the wake of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis in May, there has been a nationwide movement to either defund local police departments and/or establish new protocols for law enforcement officials to follow.

Compton is no exception.

Video footage emerged May 31 when Compton resident Dalvin Price was pulled over by sheriff’s deputies for alleging participating in a looting at a local pharmacy.

On June 18, Andres Guardado was killed by Compton deputies assigned to patrol the unincorporated area on the Compton/Gardena border. It was alleged that Guardado was working as an unlicensed security guard and possessed a gun when approached by deputies. When he started running he was chased into an alley where he was shot in the back five times, according to autopsy reports.

That prompted Compton officials to hold a special council meeting June 29 with Sheriff Alex Villanueva to clarify if the city was paying for the deputies involved in the Guardado shooting.

At that meeting. Brown suggested the creation of Compton Community Policing Standards for local deputies to follow. Villanueva told her that county establishes the contract language and cost of services for the cities the Sheriff’s Department patrols.

2UrbanGirls asked Villanueva why friction is increasing between the department and Mayor Brown.

“Compton Station Captain LaTanya Clark had already answered all of the mayor’s questions,” Villanueva said. “I’m not sure what the purpose was of the mayor’s press conference but if she approaches us and asks questions, we will provide her answers.”

Brown tried to place an advisory ballot measure on the Nov. 3 election ballot that would create new policing standards, but the City Council failed to act on it, voting down the proposal 3-2 Aug. 3. The measure would have only been advisory, with no leverage to enforce it if it was approved by voters.

On Aug. 3, Compton elected officials met to vote on calling for a special election Brown was angry at the council’s decision, going on social media to slam the city’s senior citizens for spreading “false information” about the election’s costs and holding the city “hostage” by contacting their respective council members to ask them to vote against the special election.

Brown is continuing her quest to alter the city’s law enforcement contract with the county, which if successful could affect all cities that contract with the Sheriff’s Department for police services.

Villanueva has defended his deputies, denying there are renegade deputies that belong to a sub group.

“When we had the first claim that had an issue to do with a sub-group we conducted an investigation and the district attorney declined to prosecute,” Villanueva said. “And we immediately went to the FBI and asked them to participate in our investigation.”

The tattoo in questions was first reported in June 2019 when the family of Donta Taylor settled a lawsuit for $7 million after he was killed for allegedly having a gun that was never found.

The county corrective action plan, which provides a summary about why a settlement is justified, made no mention of the tattoo on the deputy who allegedly shot Taylor or the existence of an inked group at the Compton station. The county and the Sheriff’s Department have traditionally shied away from acknowledging whether the groups may be linked to unlawful or out-of-policy behavior.

The tattoo has now re-emerged as the focal point of Compton asking for an outside investigation.

“Quiet as its kept, something like this is probably already in place but if I was the mayor I’d make this move publicly too,” said a former Sheriff’s deputy who asked not to be identified for this article. “Aja Brown is playing politics at its finest, and since she is up for re-election she wants to be seen as ‘going hard’ on the Sheriff’s Department.”