A man convicted in April of torture and elder abuse at an upscale Calabasas retirement home said he was beaten by other inmates in a Los Angeles County jail on two occasions despite requesting to be removed from the general population housing, according to a sworn statement he made to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Cesar Ulloa, 22, said his crimes made him a target: He often laughed as he viciously attacked residents at Silverado Senior Living, several of whom were too dementia-ridden to call for help, prosecutors alleged.
Ulloa said an inmate brought a copy of The Times that detailed his crimes and featured Ulloa's photo to his dorm at Pitchess Detention Center in April. A group of inmates, he said, then beat him up, breaking his left eye socket and causing brain damage.
Los Angeles County sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said a medical examination shows Ulloa exaggerated his injuries — mainly cuts and bruises — and that they found no evidence of a beating.
"It's disingenuous at the very least," Whitmore said.
Ulloa's statement was contained in an ACLU report released Thursday, which condemned Los Angeles County's jail conditions.
According to Ulloa's statement, he asked to be held in protective custody after he recovered, but was mocked by the jail's staff. His request was denied.
Whitmore said Ulloa never requested to be removed from the general population, and had denied to deputies that he ever was assaulted. Jail experts say it is not uncommon for inmates to lie about being attacked to avoid being labeled snitches.
Whitmore said after deputies observed Ulloa's injuries, he was placed in protective custody while his eligibility for the special accommodations was assessed.
One criterion for protective custody is media attention. Whitmore said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials searched the Internet for articles about Ulloa and found none.
On May 14, authorities deemed Ulloa ineligible for protective custody and returned him to the general population. By that date, The Times had published five articles about Ulloa's case, including one that prominently ran his picture on the front page.
By the end of May, Ulloa was injured again. In his ACLU statement, he said he was knocked unconscious and woke up the next morning "in a pool of my blood." Whitmore confirmed the injury, but said that Ulloa told department investigators that he was not attacked, and had fallen off his bunk.
Michael Gennaco, who heads the Office of Independent Review, said the Sheriff's Department properly investigated Ulloa's injuries, and was restricted by Ulloa's statements that he had not been assaulted. Still, he said department investigators should have found the extensive news coverage on his case.
"Certainly in hindsight the decision not to put him in [protective] housing could be second-guessed," Gennaco said.