A former Los Angeles County deputy sheriff is suing Sheriff Alex Villanueva and his department over an alleged downgrading of their position in retaliation for a complaint about a deputy kneeling on an inmate’s head in March.
Robin Limon, who served on the command staff just below Villanueva, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. Limon alleges retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation and violations of the Public Safety Officer’s Bill of Rights. She is seeking damages of at least $3 million.
“The facts and evidence do not support the plaintiff’s allegations and the case will be vigorously defended in court,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement to The Times on Thursday.
Limon’s lawsuit alleges that Villanueva retaliated against her and other whistleblowers within the department for exposing his cover-up of an incident in which Deputy Douglas Johnson died on the head of a handcuffed inmate, Enzo Escalante, at the San Fernando courthouse in March 2021 , knelt.
Limon alleges that she was falsely accused by the sheriff of covering up the incident and was forced to retire early from the department on March 29.
“Villanueva’s legacy as sheriff will be known for both incompetence and corruption,” the lawsuit states. “It will be years before any future sheriff cleans up the mess.”
According to the lawsuit, Villanueva spared Johnson disciplinary action if he promised to destroy footage of the incident, which was captured by surveillance cameras in the courthouse and obtained by The Times in late March.
Johnson is also currently embroiled in a separate trial for a lawsuit brought by Lakers legend Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, for allegedly distributing photos of the helicopter crash in which Bryant and eight others, including their 13-year-old daughter Gianna, died, was filed in January 2020.
Limon’s lawsuit says Villanueva tried to avoid “bad media” coverage of the department and is concerned about potential public scrutiny for failing to hold Johnson and other lawmakers accountable.
Limon also alleges that the sheriff blocked a criminal investigation into the Escalante incident at the courthouse and lied about his awareness of what happened, claiming he didn’t see the video until months later to “adjust a fake timeline.” “.
“Whistleblowers should be protected by state and federal laws and protected from retaliation,” Limon’s lawsuit reads. “However, the whistleblowers are not safe in LASD and are not protected by the county.”
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-11/sheriff-alex-villanueva-sued-by-former-la-county-assistant-sheriff-robin-limon-demotion Former L.A. County assistant sheriff sues Sheriff Villanueva over demotion