RANCHO PALOS VERDES — After receiving its second complaint of police misconduct within three months, the City Council this week asked the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for copies of all misconduct complaints filed at the Lomita sheriff's station by Rancho Palos Verdes residents.
Capt. Elmer Omohundro, station commander, said in an interview that he will comply.
"I think that since we are paying nearly $1.5 million to the sheriff, we can expect full disclosure," said Mayor John C. McTaggart. The department polices the city on a contract basis.
The council action, taken unanimously on a motion by Councilwoman Jacki Bacharach, came after Eric Randall, a 51-year-old engineer, told the council that a deputy wrestled him to the ground when Randall tried to talk him out of a traffic ticket on June 8.
Trapped in Traffic
Randall said he was stuck in Saturday afternoon traffic on Palos Verdes Drive West during the Palos Verdes Marathon, so he turned right onto Hawthorne Boulevard even though a traffic officer had told him to go straight ahead. Randall said that after he was stopped by a deputy on Hawthorne, he tried to talk the officer out of issuing a citation.
The deputy, he said, ordered him out of his car and told him he was under arrest. After he asked the deputy just to write a ticket, Randall said, the deputy twisted his right arm behind his back and wrestled him to the ground.
Omohundro said the police report claims that Randall was speeding when he was stopped by Deputy Danny Calhoun, who wrote in the report that Randall used obscene language and initially refused to show his driver's license. Calhoun said Randall started to walk away from the car and struck Calhoun on the chest after the deputy tried to restrain him. Randall was put in a headlock and wrestled to the ground, the report said.
In May, resident Fred Wright complained to the council that police smashed his face onto the pavement and broke his glasses after he went to a party where he had been told his 19-year-old son had been beaten by deputies. Officers had been called to break up the party.
Omohundro said two police misconduct complaints have been filed by Rancho Palos Verdes residents in the past year. Wright's complaint is still being investigated. Resisting-arrest charges against Wright were dropped after he agreed not to sue the county.
A complaint filed in March, also involving a fight at a party, was not substantiated, Omohundro said.
Randall has been charged with failure to obey a traffic officer, speeding and resisting arrest. He is scheduled to appear Monday in Torrance Municipal Court. He said his attorney advised him to tell his story to the council before the court appearance. Randall said his attorney plans to file a complaint with the sheriff.
After Randall's presentation, McTaggart expressed concern that residents are using the council's question period to vent complaints about the sheriff. "It's not fair to the other side and I'm considering not allowing it in the future," he said.