Two Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies were convicted this week for beating a mentally ill male inmate to “teach him a lesson” after he had mouthed off to jailers in March 2010.
Bryan Brunsting, 31, and Jason Branum, 35, were both convicted on counts of conspiracy, falsifying records and violating the inmate’s civil rights, marking a total of 21 Los Angeles sheriffs deputies to have been convicted of crimes since the federal government began investigating the largest jail system in the country in 2011.
The mayhem all started at The Twin Towers Correctional Facility when Philip Jones left his jail cell without permission and mouthed off to guards when confronted, according to the Los Angeles Times.
It was then that the deputies led Jones down a hallway off the security camera grid. They then beat Jones in order to “teach him a lesson”, court documents note.
Jones is schizophrenic.
Brunsting and Branum decided that the beating was a great on the job learning opportunity for rookie Deputy Josh Sather. At the commands of Brunsting and Branum, Sather participated in the beating , but backed out once he saw the inmate was not resisting. Sather was not charged in the case because of his cooperation with prosecutors as a key witness.
And if beating the inmate wasn’t enough, Brunsting and Branum also pepper sprayed him. In a final act of recklessness, Brunsting and Branum capped off the beat down by spreading open the inmates legs and kicking him in the genitals.
Upon the beating the deputies convened to come up with a trumped up story on justification for the beating; which they eventually put in official reports to superiors. The falsified reports indicated that Jones threw punches at the deputies, which prompted them to restrain Jones.
“The civil rights in the Constitution are guaranteed to everyone in the United States, even those who are being held in jail, “The victim was tackled. Brunsting and Branum then beat the victim with fists, kicked him in the genitals and sprayed him in the eyes with pepper spray,” United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker said.
A defense attorney for the defendants noted that his clients used reasonable force on Jones.
The sentencing is scheduled for August, both Brunsting and Branum face up to 40 years in prison each. Brunsting is the subject of a civil lawsuit in a separate civil rights case.