A former Los Angeles County Sheriff's sergeant was convicted by a jury on Nov. 1 of taking part in the brutal beating of a jail visitor.
Former Sgt. Eric Gonzalez, 46, was in court for an alleged attack on a jail visitor, Gabriel Carrillo, on Feb. 26, 2011, according to ABC 7 and the Los Angeles Times. Carrillo and his girlfriend had gone to visit Carrillo's brother who had been arrested a few days earlier. When they entered Men's Central Jail, they had their cellphones with them, which is a misdemeanor violation.
Carrillo was put in handcuffs and led into a deputy's break room. After allegedly mouthing off to a deputy, other deputies shoved him against a refrigerator and pepper-sprayed Carrillo, kneed him in the back and finally knocked him unconscious, ABC 7 reports.
The jury found the deputies involved in the beating had falsified the original report regarding Carrillo, which alleged that Carrillo was actually the attacker. Based on that report, Carrillo was originally facing up to 14 years in prison, but prosecutors dropped the charges against him shortly before his trial date and attempted to reach a $1.2 million settlement with him, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The criminal complaint against Gonzalez depended on whether or not Carrillo was handcuffed at the time of the beating. Prosecutors said he was shackled, while defense attorneys argued that Carrillo had one hand uncuffed and that he had attacked the deputies with the loose restraints.
The jury ultimately found Gonzalez guilty of the charges.
The prosecution was able to “flip” two other deputies involved in the beating to testify against the sergeant during the trial. They will receive reduced sentences and little to possibly no jail time for their cooperation, reports ABC 7.
Gonzalez was unapologetic in court. Before learning what his sentence would be, he told Judge George King that his life has been turned “upside down” by the entire incident. He ultimately defended himself, saying that “minimal force sometimes looks ugly.”
Gonzalez was sentenced to eight years in federal prison and was escorted from the courtroom by the U.S. Marshals Service to begin serving his sentence.