Skip to content

County lawyers move to dismiss ‘Banditos’ lawsuit


Plaintiffs allege ‘tribute payments’ to gang

By OW Staff

Almost three-and-a-half years after the case was filed, lawyers for Los Angeles County are seeking dismissal of all claims made by eight sheriff’s deputies who allege they were pressured to quit or leave the East Los Angeles Station by members of a clique of mostly Latino deputies known as the Banditos.

“The undisputed facts show no adverse employment action, no discrimination, no severe or pervasive harassment, no retaliation, no outrageous conduct, no severe emotional distress, no violent threats, no duty of care, no assault or battery in the course of employment, and no deprivation of rights,” county attorneys argue in court papers filed on Feb. 17 with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yolanda Orozco, who is scheduled to hear the county’s motion March 6.

The plaintiffs are Deputies Art Hernandez; Alfred Gonzalez; Benjamin Zaredini; David Casas; Louis Granados; Mario Contreras; Oscar Escobedo; and Ariela Lemus. They seek unspecified damages on allegations that include racial discrimination; harassment; assault; battery; intentional infliction of emotional distress; and civil rights violations.

The plaintiffs’ lawsuit, originally filed in September 2019, names as defendants Los Angeles County; Rafael “Rene” Munoz; Gregory Rodriguez; David Silverio; and Michael Hernandez. The suit deals in large part with the events that allegedly occurred during a September 2018 training session at Kennedy Hall, an East Los Angeles event venue, at which the plaintiffs maintain the individual defendants violently attacked them.

Banditos gang members “sucker-punched” Art Hernandez and “knocked him out cold,” then kicked him while he was unconscious and unable to defend himself, according to the plaintiffs’ court papers. The suit alleges the assailants also grabbed Escobedo from behind twice and choked him unconscious in a manner that could have killed him.

The plaintiffs were threatened and bullied in attempts to get them to conform to a “corrupt culture,” were denied needed backup on dangerous calls, and were “shaken down” and ordered to pay taxes to the gang, according to the suit. Some plaintiffs allege they were hit and choked unconscious.

But in their court papers, county attorneys argue the county is not responsible for anything that allegedly happened to the plaintiffs at Kennedy Hall.