LOS ANGELES – An officer with the Veterans Affairs Police Department (VAPD) has been indicted on civil rights and assault charges that allege he used a department-issued baton to illegally strike a man approximately 45 times in 41 seconds at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, the Justice Department announced today.
Juan Anthony Carrillo, 45, was named in a two-count indictment returned Thursday by a federal grand jury. Carrillo will receive a summons directing him to appear in the coming weeks for an arraignment in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
At approximately 4:00 a.m. on January 16, 2022, the 34-year-old victim identified in the indictment as “R.V.” was detained by another VAPD officer on the grounds of the Medical Center. Carrillo arrived to assist the other officer and proceeded to strike R.V. with a VAPD-issued baton up to 45 times in approximately 41 seconds, according to the indictment that notes most, if not all, of the baton strikes were delivered while the other officer was on top of the victim.
The indictment notes that Carrillo was about 60 pounds heavier than R.V and the second officer was about 8 inches taller and about 85 pounds heavier than the victim.
As a result of the alleged beating, the victim sustained injuries that included bleeding and lacerations on both legs.
“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,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “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.”
“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,” said Donald Alway, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “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.”
“The VA Office of Inspector General is committed to ensuring that all VA law enforcement officials discharge their police powers appropriately,” said Special Agent in Charge Rebeccalynn Staples of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Western Field Office. “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 use of excessive force, the indictment alleges that Carrillo, on the day after the incident, prepared a misleading VAPD incident report to justify his use of force. “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,” according to the indictment.
Carrillo is charged with 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.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The FBI, the VA’s Office of Inspector General, and the VA’s Office of Security and Law Enforcement are conducting the investigation in this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney Susan Har of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section is prosecuting this case.