November 3, 2015 / 12:23 AM / 2 years ago

L.A. sheriff's sergeant sent to prison for jail beating, cover up

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sergeant who was convicted of beating a visitor to a downtown jail and then falsifying reports about the incident was sentenced on Monday to eight years in prison.

Eric Gonzalez, 46, and two deputies were found guilty earlier this year of violating the victim’s civil rights in a case stemming from a wide-ranging FBI investigation into corruption and civil rights abuses in the Los Angeles jail system.

In all 15 current or former members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have been convicted of federal charges in connection with that investigation.

”Mr. Gonzalez’s actions cast a pall on his department and dishonored the badge he wore for many years,” David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said in a written statement.

According to evidence presented at trial, the victim was handcuffed and dragged into an employee break room after he and his girlfriend were found to be carrying prohibited cell phones when they arrived at the jail to visit her brother on Feb. 26, 2011.

The victim was then subjected to a “savage beating” and sprayed with a chemical like pepper spray before he was taken to a hospital by paramedics.

According to prosecutors, Gonzalez then told a deputy how to falsify a report about the incident to cover up the abuse.

The two former sheriff’s deputies who were convicted alongside Gonzalez, Fernando Luviano and Sussie Ayala, are scheduled for sentencing later this month.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Bill Trott

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