L.A. County deputy who kneeled on inmate’s head will not be charged, D.A.’s memo says
On the day of the controversial 2014 chokehold incident, Los Angeles County Deputy Richard Piñeda was driving to work at the time.
A video of the incident that day was later made public, showing Piñeda repeatedly forcing an inmate to the ground and then placing his arm around the back of the man’s neck.
And during an ongoing review of the case, county prosecutors are recommending that Deputy Piñeda not be charged.
“If the video is convincing evidence, he must be found not guilty by clear and convincing evidence,” according to a memo released Wednesday by Los Angeles County.
The video shows Piñeda grabbing an inmate by the neck and placing him on his chest before placing his arms around his neck and using a chokehold.
The deputy was cleared as a result of disciplinary proceedings, but not before the video was released and he was sued and later settled for $10.7 million.
But the criminal justice committee will not follow that recommendation, arguing there is no evidence that Piñeda used excessive force or violated the civil rights of the inmate, said the memo by Deputy Chief Trial Attorney John Lacy.
In their memo, prosecutors recommended that Piñeda be found not guilty of the second-degree assault charge, given that the video shows Piñeda placing a chokehold on the inmate, but they could have recommended a lesser count of fourth-degree assault if the video of the incident was inconclusive or incomplete.
In a statement, the department said, “All of our employees are held to the highest standards of professional conduct and training. The department is unaware of the outcome of this case due to an ongoing civil proceedings.”
The department said it was investigating Piñeda’s actions and had not yet heard back about the criminal justice committee’s recommendation.
Los Angeles County is reviewing the incident, and Chief Administrative Law Judge Eric R. Sigmund has assigned a third-party investigator