A video (below) of four probation officers beating an unidentified teen in a holding cell of a Los Angeles County juvenile hall, while a supervisor watches, recently surfaced.
The surveillance video, which does not include audio, was sent to Celeste Fremon, editor of WitnessLA, by anonymous sources. The incident reportedly occurred on April 24.
In the video, the teen, reportedly 17 years old, appears to throw an object at the door, likely his mattress cover, and then possibly a balled-up piece of paper, before the beating occurs at the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, California.
Fremon notes that a probation officer lunges at the teen and slams him face down on the cot, which (without a mattress) is a cement block covered with a towel.
According to Fremon, the same officer punches the boy repeatedly, while two other officers join the fracas with knees and punches.
A fourth officer reportedly enters the cell and strikes, knees or holds the teen down.
The boy ends up being pushed off the cot and onto the floor.
Fremon reports that the teen appears to try to cover himself while the officers deliver their blows. A supervisor appears to enter the room about 60 seconds into the beating and then leaves.
"There is still a culture of brutality against juveniles, and they are very upset about it," Fremon told KABC.
The teen may have suffered a broken jaw, according to WitnessLA.
"There is no reason for this kind of force, ever, under any circumstances, even if you have a riot," Fremon added to KABC.
"We hold our staff to a very high standard," Interim Probation Chief Cal Remington said on June 17. "We have zero tolerance for mistreating the juveniles in our care. And while I can't really comment on an ongoing investigation, this matter is being thoroughly investigated, and we take matters of this nature very, very seriously."
The L.A. County Probation Department has reportedly passed the case along to the District Attorney's Office.
In March, a report on a different juvenile hall in Los Angeles County described it as a system lacking a leader that had "unacceptable" and "deplorable" surroundings that were like a "Third World country prison," noted the Los Angeles Times.
According to the report by Azael "Sal" Martinez, a volunteer probation department monitor, the Central Juvenile Hall in Boyle Heights had walls with gang graffiti and filth, and young detainees were put in solitary confinement in violation of department policy.
One young person was reportedly put into solitary for exchanging food -- something murderers are allowed to do in some state prisons.
Remington said at the time that he was going to investigate the report.
"Clearly there are issues that I need to deal with," he said, according to the Los Angeles Times.