Appeals Court Finds WeHo Deputies Liable in Jail Beating

A federal appeals court has upheld a decision that requires two West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station deputies to pay punitive damages for not properly responding to the beating of a drunk man being held in a station cell in 2009.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, first reported by Courthouse News, also affirmed L.A. County’s responsibility to pay $840,000 in attorney’s fees associated with the case.

West Hollywood Sheriff's Station
West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station

In its decision, the court said: “West Hollywood sobering cell was noncompliant in at least two respects, in that it lacked all the required padding and, more importantly for our purposes, did not ‘allow for maximum visual supervision of prisoners by staff.'”

The court held that the Sheriff’s Department “had notice that their customs or policies posed a substantial risk of serious harm to persons detained in the West Hollywood sobering cell and were deliberately indifferent to that risk.”

Jonathan Castro was placed in that cell after being arrested in October 2009 and charged with public drunkenness. Later, deputies placed another man in the cell. That man, Jonathan Gonzalez, had been arrested for breaking a nightclub’s glass door with his fist, a felony, and had been described by deputies as “combative.”

Castro’s suit against L.A. County and the deputies asserted that he was attacked by Gonzalez and that no one responded when he pounded on the door of the cell and yelled for help.

Eventually a community volunteer stopped by the cell and reported that Gonzalez was inappropriately touching Castro. When a deputy finally stopped by the cell, Gonzalez was found kicking Castro’s head. Castro’s jaw was broken and he was laying unconscious in a pool of blood. Castro was hospitalized for a month and then spent four years in a long-term care facility. According to the lawsuit, he still suffers from severe memory loss.

In its 8-3 decision, the court affirmed that deputy Christopher Solomon, the officer who eventually found Castro beaten in his cell, was liable for $6.000 in punitive damages and that his supervisor, David Valentine, is liable for $12,000 in damages. Valentine still works at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station. As of publication WEHOville was unable to determine whether Solomon also is employed there.

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fine7760
6 years ago

The West Hollywood Station was rebuilt with insufficient space throughout. It should have either been moved to a larger parcel or built with a second and perhaps a third floor. It happens far to many times, government facilities being planned and built by those who have no idea the mechanics of the department or agency.

Jimmy Palmieri
6 years ago

I’m thinking that because someone was drunk in public….like tens of thousands are at Pride, that they should not be locked in a cell with someone who was arrested for violence and was labeled combative. This is sickening.

Dark Angel
Dark Angel
6 years ago

IMHO if you don’t want anything happen to you, be a normal and law abiding citizen. Don’t go to jail!!! Plain and simple!!! Quit blaming others for your stupidity!!! these ambulance chaser attorneys only care about their pockets!! It’s same CA is going to be crook friendly and the rest of law abiding citizen has to pay the price!!!!!

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