May 27, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Veterans Affairs Police Officer Indicted on Assault and Civil Rights Charges

Charges Include Allegations of Excessive Force and Misleading Reports

By Dolores Quintana

An officer from the Veterans Affairs Police Department (VAPD) is facing charges related to civil rights violations and assault following allegations that he utilized a department-issued baton to strike a man repeatedly in a brief timeframe at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, as announced by the Justice Department today.

Juan Anthony Carrillo, aged 45, has been named in a two-count indictment issued by a federal grand jury on Thursday. Carrillo will soon receive a summons directing him to appear for arraignment in the United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

The incident took place around 4:00 a.m. on January 16, 2022, when a 34-year-old individual, referred to in the indictment as “R.V.,” was detained by another VAPD officer on the Medical Center premises. Carrillo arrived to assist the other officer and allegedly struck R.V. with a VAPD-issued baton approximately 45 times in roughly 41 seconds, as per the indictment. It is worth noting that most, if not all, of the baton strikes occurred while the other officer was on top of the victim.

The indictment points out that Carrillo was significantly larger than R.V., weighing about 60 pounds more, and that the second officer was approximately 8 inches taller and around 85 pounds heavier than the victim. As a result of the alleged incident, the victim sustained injuries, including bleeding and lacerations on both legs.

United States Attorney Martin Estrada stated, “Our Constitution protects all of us from excessive force inflicted by law enforcement officers, and when that standard is violated, the Justice Department will take action to vindicate the rights enjoyed by all Americans. We deeply appreciate the difficult jobs faced every day by law enforcement officers, the vast majority of whom act with professionalism and integrity. But when an officer acts in a manner that violates the civil rights of another person, we will respond to uphold the rule of law and maintain public trust in our system of justice.”

Donald Alway, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, emphasized, “The excessive use of force alleged in the indictment is disturbing and not representative of the high standards and restraint practiced by the overwhelming majority of police officers. The FBI is committed to protecting individual civil rights in the United States and will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, including the Veterans Affairs Police Department, to identify and investigate alleged civil rights abuses.”

Special Agent in Charge Rebeccalynn Staples of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Western Field Office, added, “The VA Office of Inspector General is committed to ensuring that all VA law enforcement officials discharge their police powers appropriately. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable any VA police officers who violate the constitutional rights of another through excessive force.”
In addition to the allegations of excessive force, the indictment contends that Carrillo, the day after the incident, prepared a misleading VAPD incident report to justify his use of force. According to the indictment, “Carrillo’s report misleadingly and falsely claimed that victim R.V. was violently kicking his legs and refusing to show his hands, while also omitting the number of strikes defendant Carrillo used.”

Carrillo faces charges of deprivation of rights under color of law resulting in bodily injury and assault with a dangerous weapon with the intent to do bodily harm. Both offenses, as alleged, carry statutory maximum penalties of 10 years in federal prison.

The FBI, the VA’s Office of Inspector General, and the VA’s Office of Security and Law Enforcement are conducting an investigation into this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Susan Har of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section is prosecuting this case.

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