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Melee between Latino, black jail inmates under investigation

April 03, 2013|By Richard Winton
  • The Twin Towers jail.
The Twin Towers jail. (Los Angeles Times )

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is investigating a racially charged melee involving as many as 62 inmates that erupted Wednesday at the Twin Towers Jail in downtown Los Angeles.

A Sheriff's Department spokesman said charges could be filed after the investigation is completed.

The brawl between Latino and black inmates broke out at 12:10 p.m in the third-floor recreation area of Tower 1 and was quelled in about 90 seconds after deputies deployed sting balls and gas, sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

The altercation left four inmates needing treatment at the medical center with cuts and bruises.

Twin Towers is among the county's most modern jails with module-designed levels. Although such fights have been common at the Pitchess facility in Castaic, Twin Towers is rarely the scene of multi-inmate clashes.

Los Angeles County operates the country's largest jail system, housing around 18,000 to 19,000 inmates daily. Sheriff Lee Baca in the last few years has come in for scathing criticism for his operation of the jails.

Recently, the FBI broadened its investigation into violence in the jail system and Baca hired an outsider to oversee its operations. That investigation has secured one deputy's conviction and according to sources is now examining two new cases of unprovoked beatings involving deputies.

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