A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Thursday rejected an eleventh-hour attempt by the sheriff's deputies' union to block the release of the identities of deputies involved in three controversial shootings.
The Assn. of Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriffs sought to get involved in the case after Judge James C. Chalfant ruled Friday that the deputies' names should be made public. In his decision, Chalfant said state law generally requires the disclosure of the identities of officers who use deadly force.
Chalfant made the ruling in a case filed by The Times seeking the names, ranks, assignments and years of employment of deputies who shot and killed three suspects last year. At least two of the suspects were unarmed.
Elizabeth Gibbons, an attorney for the union, told Chalfant at a hearing Thursday that neither the union nor the individual deputies whose identities are being sought were aware of the case until this week.
Gibbons argued that the Sheriff's Department should be barred from releasing the names because the deputies have received death threats.
Chalfant said the union was too late in its attempt to become involved in the case. He also reiterated his belief that the public interest in the disclosure of the officers' identities outweighed the private concerns of the individual deputies.
"There are other ways of handling a death threat than secrecy," Chalfant said, adding that it would be the department's job to investigate the threats and protect its deputies. "The public interest is very compelling to avoid a police state and all that."
Gibbons said she would ask an appellate court to reconsider Chalfant's decision denying the union's attempt to get involved. Chalfant said he would enter a final ruling in May.
The Times has sought, under the California Public Records Act, the names of deputies involved in the fatal shootings of Avery Cody Jr. and Woodrow Player Jr., who were both killed in July, and Darrick Collins, who was killed in September.