A whistleblower from the Compton Station (CPT) of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department claims that more than 20 of 100 active deputies are part of a violent and brutal police gang The Executioners. Deputy Art Gonzalez, a decorated Marine Corps veteran, filed a claim in June claiming that a fraternal police organization had infiltrated CPT. The gang’s hallmark is a tattoo of a skeleton with flames shooting out behind it, wearing a Nazi war helmet, and holding an AK-47. The report claims that another fifth of CPT is associated with the gang, although not officially initiated. Gonzalez’s report claims that “Members become inked as Executioners after executing members of the public, or otherwise committing acts of violence in furtherance of the gang. Those involved in fatal shootings are immediately tatted during one of the many inking parties.”
CPT deputies have a shocking record of excessive force in their community, especially against Black and Latinx citizens. In June, 18-year-old Salvadoran-American teenager Andrés Guardado was shot in the back by a deputy after a short chase on foot. Guardado was working as an unlicensed security guard for Andrew Heney, the owner of a nearby auto shop. The two deputies on the scene reported that Guardado pulled a gun, but no footage has been recovered to corroborate this, and witnesses dispute this account. The deputies allegedly destroyed eight different video cameras on the scene and took possession of the auto shop’s DVR, all before getting a warrant. Heney claims that Guardado knelt on the ground and tried to surrender with his hands behind his head before Deputy Miguel Vega shot him five times in the back. Sheriff Alex Villanueva placed a security hold on Guardado’s autopsy, but the coroner’s office overturned it. Guardado’s sister, Jennifer Guardado, claims that the gun recovered at the scene did not belong to her brother.
In May, a disturbing video surfaced of CPT deputies beating Dalvin Price repeatedly screaming, “I’m on the ground” with his hands held over his head. Price claims that he was pulled over and beaten even though he got on the ground voluntarily out of fear for his life.
Even elected officials are not spared similar treatment. Compton Mayor Aja Brown, says she, her husband, and their young daughter were pulled over in June by a Compton sheriff’s deputy for allegedly running a red light. After she was stopped, between 7 and 9 deputies arrived almost immediately and ordered her out of the car. The deputies searched the vehicle and her husband for drugs but found nothing. Brown denies running a red light and has joined community and city leaders in calling for an investigation into CPT. Mayor Brown also called for the department’s defunding if they will not extricate the gang from their ranks. The city of Compton currently has a $22 million annual contract with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
The gang’s alleged leader, Deputy Jaime Juarez, is said to have organized a work slowdown when the gang requested that one of their members be given a higher position in the department. The Training and Scheduling position controls shifts and training assignments and would have allowed the Executioners to get favorable shifts and organize paid time off. When Captain Larry Waldie denied the request, Juarez organized a slowdown of the gang’s work. All were paid in full for the time that they intentionally did not complete their duties. The Executioners also allegedly have arrest quotas that encourage gang members and the rest of the department to make more arrests based on misdemeanors.
Deputy Art Gonzalez has consistently faced retaliation from officers at CPT since he filed his claim in June. After suffering discrimination at the hands of the gang for years, Gonzalez anonymously reported the assault of an officer by another officer on duty. The anonymous tip was almost immediately leaked to the Executioners. Since then, graffiti reading “Art is a Rat” has appeared on the keypad to the CPT parking lot and on the station’s walls. Gonzalez has stepped down from his position as a Field Training Officer. Gonzalez’s attorney, Alan Romero, said “Deputy Gonzalez, he’s afraid for his safety right now as he should be. This is a violent gang, you know, violence, shootings, beatings.” Despite overwhelming evidence of gang activity, Sheriff Villanueva has released a statement denying knowledge of gang activity in his department.
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