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Fights, beatings and a birth: Videos smuggled out of L.A. jails reveal violence, neglect

Disturbing footage obtained from a thumb drive discarded in a jail trash can sheds light on the hidden violence and chaos within the Los Angeles County jail system. The graphic videos, collected over a span of six years, reveal numerous instances of inmate brawls, stabbings, assaults by deputies, and even a woman giving birth in a jail hallway.

The footage underscores a lack of supervision and a troubling inattentiveness from jailers, with some clips showing inmates carrying on with their daily routines amidst the violence. The revelation has sparked outrage and raised questions about oversight and accountability within the jail system.

The videos, obtained by an inmate who later shared them with a reporter, showcase a range of violent incidents taking place in the Men’s Central Jail, known for its persistent issues. The footage captures the horrifying assault on an inmate lasting 20 minutes, with no jailers in sight until minutes before it ends. Other videos depict inmates attacking one another, inmates attacking guards, and instances of jailers using excessive force on inmates.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department acknowledged that the attacks occurred between the guards’ regular rounds, and the video feeds from the surveillance cameras was not consistently monitored in real-time due to staff shortages. Assistant Sheriff Sergio Aloma stated that they lacked the necessary staff to monitor the cameras full-time, but efforts were made to increase random checks between scheduled rounds to prevent prolonged violence.

The origin of the thumb drive, as revealed by the former inmate who discovered it, is equally shocking. The drive was found in the jail trash by an inmate worker who attempted to sell it to others, unaware of its contents. Eventually, it fell into the hands of an inmate who kept it hidden until his release. The drive contained numerous reports, audio clips, training manuals, and dozens of violent videos, raising concerns about the purpose and intent behind collecting such footage.

While the videos predate the current administration, they highlight ongoing challenges in the Los Angeles County jail system. Lawsuits have been filed, alleging poor living conditions and systemic violence, with the Sheriff’s Department failing to adequately address these issues. Despite recent efforts to improve mental health treatment and divert people from jail, concerns remain regarding the lack of staff to monitor video feeds and ensure the safety and security of inmates.

The shocking revelations from the thumb drive videos have prompted calls for a thorough investigation into the incidents captured and a comprehensive review of jail procedures and oversight. The focus is now on holding those responsible accountable and implementing necessary reforms to prevent further violence and neglect within the Los Angeles County jail system.

Paul joined the Manchester Evening News in 2004 and Tosbos in 2022. A senior reporter, he's experienced in crime and court reporting - and also holds the defense portfolio.


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