On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department agreed to a $725,000 settlement with the Justice Department, the result of a two-year investigation that found systematic civil rights abuses against minorities living in Antelope Valley, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Under the agreement, the Sheriff’s Department admits to no wrong-doing, but will comply with a series of recommended reforms, pay $25,000 in penalties and give $700,000 to minority victims of police harassment—substantially less than the $12 million the government originally demanded.
According to the Justice Department, deputies repeatedly intimidated African Americans living in subsidized housing with surprise inspections by as many as nine armed officers, sometimes with their guns drawn, violating the Fair Housing Act. From the Associated Press:
In at least one case, a deputy conducting a housing compliance check apparently helped fuel hatred by sending photographs of luxury vehicles in a home’s garage to the person who set up an “I Hate Section 8” page on Facebook.
The family’s home was vandalized with a racist message scrawled on the garage door and urine was thrown on their son by someone who called him a racial slur.
The family moved back to inner city Los Angeles to escape further harassment.
Additionally, the investigation found that Sheriff’s deputies “engaged in a pattern or practice of stops, searches, and seizures and excessive force” that violated the constitutional rights of African Americans and Latinos living in the area.
“This settlement is not an indictment of the men and women in uniform assigned to the Antelope Valley,” L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich told The L.A. Times in a statement today, “but rather a recognition that improvement was needed which presented an opportunity to make the Antelope Valley a better place to live and work.”
[Image via AP Images]