By Emilie St. John
LEIMERT PARK — Noted attorney Benjamin Crump is part of the legal team for a man who alleges that he was beaten by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies Oct. 16 that he may lose an eye.
“Blake Anderson was severely beaten for no reason and had a gun put to his head by sheriff’s deputies in a videotaped beating that has gone worldwide,” Crump said last week. “Our legal team looks forward to representing Mr. Anderson and holding sheriff’s deputies accountable for this vicious and violent beating.”
Anderson was outside an Inglewood hookah lounge when deputies approached him and attempted to arrest him.
“The police just brutally attacked me for no reason,” Anderson said. “So I asked them, ‘What did I do? What did I do?’ As I asked again, what did I do, they just slammed my head and threw punches.”
Anderson said he was working as an armed security guard at Good Batch hookah lounge at 5006 W. Century Blvd. near the San Diego (405) Freeway.
The Sheriff’s Department denied the allegations.
“They tried to sell the idea that somehow we blinded him and he was working,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a news conference a few days after the arrest.
A sheriff’s department statement said Anderson “had a previous traumatic eye injury which he sustained in an unrelated incident prior to contact with deputies,” but did not elaborate on whether the injury was exacerbated due to the use of force.
The sheriff’s department also claimed that Anderson was not working at the time and that he couldn’t work as a security guard because he is on parole and therefore not allowed to carry a gun.
Anderson was not a direct employee of the Inglewood business but was employed by a security company, said Jim DeSimone, another attorney representing Anderson.
“We don’t believe it’s true,” DeSimone said of the sheriff’s department’s claim that Anderson was not working as a security guard and was not legally allowed to carry a firearm.
“We’re still investigating that but … our client had a reasonable belief that he was in lawful possession of that firearm and was given that firearm to do his job.”
The Inglewood Police Department has not responded to a request to determine the name of the guard company and if it is registered with the city to perform armed security services at the hookah lounge.
It is also unknown if Anderson is properly licensed with the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services to perform armed security services in the state of California.
Persons convicted of felonies are not allowed to either own or be in possession of a loaded firearm according to state law.
A GoFundMe setup by the family corroborates that statement that Anderson previously suffered an eye injury before the encounter with the two deputies.
“According to multiple witnesses, Blake was conversing with an establishment customer when the officers got out of their vehicle and proceeded to ambush him with no probable cause,” according to the GoFundMe page. “No name, source of identification or justification for arrest was asked for before immediately slamming his head into a glass window.”
The sheriff’s department claimed Anderson “sustained minor injuries during the use of force” and was taken to a hospital, where he was “medically cleared for booking.” Anderson’s family, however, reported he suffered “a dislocated shoulder” and “several hematomas around his head.”
The District Attorney’s office released a statement that it is aware of the incident but no case has been presented to their office.
Additionally, the family’s GoFundMe account said Anderson had previously suffered from a ruptured right eye that was unrelated to the arrest and was “finally showing signs of his sight returning” — but the injuries he sustained during the use of force caused the improvement in his right eye to deteriorate.
“Doctors say the eye must be cosmetically removed, and a prosthetic eye should be inserted,” Anderson’s family said.
Anderson was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of firearm, being a felon in possession of ammunition, possession of a concealed firearm and assault on a peace officer with a firearm, according to the sheriff’s department. The department stated it was unable to provide further details on the arrest due to an ongoing investigation into the use of force.
Anderson has posted bond and is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 15.
City News Service contributed to this report.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.