Deputies at Palmdale and Lancaster Rumored to be Engaging in Deputy Gang Behavior Openly Defying AV Consent Decree – Luna Releases Palmdale Use of Force Video

Last week, Sheriff Robert Luna held a press conference shortly after the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department released the body-worn camera footage of a Palmdale deputy punching a woman in the face, multiple times, while holding a three-week old infant.

The incident occurred one year ago, on July 13th, 2022, at approximately midnight during a traffic stop.

At the time, former Sheriff Alex Villanueva was at the helm and under intense scrutiny for what appears to be willfully concealing an incident involving a deputy holding an inmate at LA County Jail in a choke-hold.

Unfortunately, the optics were potentially disastrous and could have resulted in a repeat of the George Floyd outrage that launched a global defund law enforcement movement.

The leak of the video by the L.A. Times was unfortunate timing for the Sheriff as it came during his bid for re-election – and for the department in the midst of the anti-police sentiment.

As a result of the leaked jailhouse video, a high-profile shake-up within the department occurred as well as a bitter confrontation with the press, which added to Villanueva’s woes on the campaign trail.

Villanueva purposely set out to discredit and embarrass L.A. Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian by holding a press conference alluding to her being under criminal investigation for leaking video (allegedly sent to her by a source within the department) and for her exercising her first amendment rights.

The incident backfired on Villanueva and was one of the (negative) highlights of the Sheriff’s race that ultimately led to his significant loss at the polls.

Sheriff Villanueva holding a press conference regarding the leaked jailhouse video and suggesting LA Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian was under criminal investigation.

It also shed’s light as to why the video of the Palmdale incident is just now surfacing and as Sheriff Luna indicated, he was notified by the Chief of the Division that oversees Palmdale and Lancaster, who was in command under Villanueva, however, the footage never saw the light of day, most likely due to the further negative impact it could have had on Villanueva’s bid for re-election.


While the LASD has thousands of sworn personnel committed to the safety of the communities they serve, inside sources say the continued cover-up of deputy violence is still a systemic problem throughout the department – even in service areas where overall crime is statistically low.

On May 4th, 2022, Malibu/Lost Hills Deputy Konrad Thieme was booked and charged with two felony counts of assault under the color of authority, and one county of making false statements in a report.

Just two weeks before, amid the on-going controversy regarding the cover-up in the Deputy Use of Force case that led to lawsuits against the department and the Sheriff by high-level executives, rumors began circulating a second violent case of Use of Force against a mentally disabled woman was allegedly being pursued and purposely stalled at the DA’s office to affect Villanueva’s re-election.

On May 4th, 2022, at 10:23 AM, D.A. George Gascon released a statement regarding the Thieme case and the intent to prosecute.  Thieme was booked a few hours later at 12:56 p.m.


According to a complaint filed on behalf of the victim, the Use of Force incident occurred on April 10th, 2021, just one month after the Use of Force jail incident occurred.

Deputy Thieme allegedly committed multiple acts of violence against the mentally ill woman, allegedly throat punching the her completely unprovoked, with the victim falling backward to the ground and landing on her back and head. Deputies stood by as Thieme assaulted the victim grabbing her by the hair, violently throwing her into the back of the patrol car. The victim was taken to the emergency hospital where she was treated for the injuries caused by the deputies.

Deputies then proceeded to submit a false incident report, fabricating the victim was somehow a threat or resisting arrest. Based on the deputies’ fraudulent allegations, the victim was falsely arrested and thrown in jail.

Upon review of the body cam footage, then-Captain Chuck Becerra alerted the executive staff at LASD of the overtly aggressive Use of Force by Deputy Thieme who was immediately relieved of duty.

Thieme’s propensity for overly aggressive policing and use of excessive force led to a previous complaint filed in 2018.

According to sources inside the department, Thieme’s aggressive and violent behavior was well-known to superiors and Thieme was sent to anger management early on in his career.

Sources allege Thieme continued in patrol despite close to 30 excessive force incidents documented in his personnel file, including at least one where evidence was reportedly thrown out by a Detective because Thieme was on a recorded saying he would “smash the person’s head into the concrete”.

Per department sources, on-going cover-ups of Thieme’s behavior were the norm and “he got away with A LOT” before body-worn cameras were mandated end of 2020.

Thieme was also one of two deputies that responded to the sexual assault call reported by a Pepperdine student in February of 2020. Thieme and another deputy responded to the call and instead of taking a report and reviewing security footage, the deputies engaged in victim shaming leaving the scene – and the sexual assault suspect free on the streets for another 10 days  until Sheriff Villaneuva was asked to personally step in.

That incident was the last nail in the coffin for the-Captain Matthew Vander Horck who was transferred within 24-hours of the Sheriff being notified of the incident and the negligent handling of the sexual assault by his personnel.

The issue of deputy violence, as described in the Thieme case, which took place in an affluent area, is just one example of how this systemic issue within the department transcends race, community, class or creed and has continued through at least four administrations.


The Lancaster and Palmdale incidents increased chatter among department personnel and their fear of the Federal government potentially taking over the entire department as a result of the continued failure to abide by the 2015 Antelope Valley Consent Decrees which was designed to end alleged misconduct by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies in the Antelope Valley.

The L.A. Times reported over the weekend the FBI was involved in the two latest incidents, which could also indicate the Department is one step closer to a complete takeover by the Feds for non-compliance of multiple Consent Decrees.

In 2013, the Justice Department found Sheriff’s deputies in the Antelope Valley were engaged in “widespread” harassment of the mostly minority residents of low-income housing. The Justice Department concluded that deputies “engaged in a pattern or practice of misconduct” that included “the use of unreasonable force” and unconstitutional pedestrian and vehicles stops, some of which “appeared motivated by racial bias.”

As the years passed since the decree has been in place and with no real consequences for weak leadership, it has lead to complacent behavior among deputies, some exhibiting outright defiance of the DOJ Consent Decree allegedly returning to behavior of interacting unfairly with the public, purposely delaying response times, a.k.a. “work slow down”, which is indicative of deputy clique behavior.

Since the DOJ Consent Decree was put in place, the total overhaul of Palmdale and Lancaster stations was attempted multiple times.

In 2021, two African American applicants applied for the Captain’s position. The City Council, in cooperation with LASD had the opportunity to choose one of those candidates to move in a new direction and to course correct in order to be compliant with the DOJ consent decree.

One of the African American candidates, a female who was the only one who was successfully active as a Captain since late 2019 (the other candidates were Lieutenants looking to promote), was passed over in a joint decision by the City and the department for then Lt. John Lecrivain, previously of Villanueva’s beloved East L.A. Station well-known for their deputy gang culture. Lecrivain is also married to Chief Laura Lecrivain, who according to department sources has close deputy gang affiliations from her time at the Century Station. She was allegedly known to be a “foot soldier” and loyalist to former UnderSheriff Paul Tanaka, notorious for his conviction for obstruction of Justice and sentenced to five years in Federal Prison in 2016. Interestingly enough, even given her department history within the department, Sheriff Luna transferred Chief Lecrivain to oversee the “Professional Standards Division”.

Captain John Lecrivain

This decision to promote John Lecrivain went against then-Sheriff Villanueva’s newly implemented department policy of not promoting husband and wives to executive level positions which could be perceived as cronyism and/or nepotism, not to mention a conflict of interest.

It also showed the department and the city were not deviating from type of personnel previously placed in that position, basically repeating the pattern of leadership that was not successful in changing deputy behavior that led to federal intervention.

On June 2nd, Bishop V. Jesse Smith, Chairman of the Antelope Valley African American Leadership Council held a press conference. Smith and other activists and community leaders also called for the dissolution of the Community Advisory Committees, demanded that the sheriff’s department comply with a 2015 settlement agreement with the US Department of Justice and called for Lancaster station Capt. John Lecrivain to be removed.

“Today, the AV African American Leadership Council stand(s) in solidarity with various organizations, community leaders, activists and residents you see standing before you today seeking  and demanding the transformation (and) reform in the Los Angeles (County) Sheriff’s Department,” Smith said. “This reform cannot just be one to quiet the voices of the discontent or dissent, but which must be radical and revolutionary that will have a real effect and impact on the lives of those who live in the Antelope Valley…Today, we stand in unison with our comrades in the struggle for justice to hold Sheriff Luna accountable for the words he stated.” Smith said and also noted that among the reforms the department has yet to implement are an approved use of force policy and how the stations will record arrests and police stops.

Just three weeks later, yet another Lancaster Use of Force incident made headlines.

After the Lancaster incident, the Mayor posted his thoughts on Facebook, defending the Captain, a hiring decision he was jointly involved in:

Written and release by R. Rex Parris:

The recent arrest at WinCo has become national news. It has all the hallmarks of an incident that will enflame people’s passions. The suspect was an older black woman. She appears to have been arrested with excessive force. I use the word appears because the investigation is incomplete, but let’s assume it was an unjustified use of force. How does that justify a reaction from the city’s leadership that is equally unjustified?

It seems popular for some elected officials to use this to further their own public visibility, but I wonder if this isn’t evidence of their inability to lead. We will always have situations that exceed the boundaries of acceptable behavior, but our reaction to these incidents defines us.

Immediately after this video hit social media, a chorus of voices called for the firing of the deputy and the Sheriff’s Captain, people don’t know that many of these voices were calling for the Captain’s ouster the day he was promoted.

The process was for the Sheriff to recommend five candidates, which a committee of city and county representatives then interviewed. The Sheriff’s Department had a representative to oversee the selection process to ensure it complied with civil service rules and regulations. I appointed the city’s representatives. All of the five candidates were remarkably well qualified, and there were two African American candidates.

One candidate was my favorite for several reasons. The most salient reason was she managed the women’s jail during Covid and controlled the pandemic in her jail better than any jail in the country. She did this by making intelligent choices based on the known science. She saved a lot of lives. The other people on the committee were concerned that she had limited experience in the field. I was outvoted, but their reasoning was valid, and that’s why we have committees.

The remaining top two candidates were an African American and a Caucasian officer. They were both exceptionally qualified, and we would have been blessed to have either. The vote initially favored the African American candidate, but when asked if he would move closer to Lancaster from Diamond Bar after calling his wife, he declined. I was impressed that he included his spouse in the decision. I find when we don’t; it never ends well.

Our recommendation was passed on to the Sheriff, who agreed with our choice. We immediately heard the outrage from the “activists” lacking a better term. The call for his ouster never went away, and when the WinCo incident occurred, they seized on the opportunity. I respect some people in these groups, others, not so much, but I strongly disagree with their position.

There was no reason to transfer the Captain. He took over as station undermanned with the lowest morale of any station in the county. In the two years, he was in command, there was a significant measurable improvement. I don’t know the facts that led to his transfer, and it is the decision of the Sheriff, but I do know the WinCo incident should not have been a reason.

I also hope they do not terminate the deputy involved in the incident. Should he be disciplined if the facts do not support his actions? He should. Should he be given additional training to help him recognize the appropriate level of force to employ? He should. Assuming this deputy has no history of excessive force, terminating him is simply inappropriate. He made a bad decision after racing to a robbery in progress call. A robbery in progress usually involves a gun, and placing any suspects in custody as soon as possible is essential. Nothing pretty about how this is done, but it saves lives. Unfortunately, because the current District Attorney rarely prosecutes shoplifting, stores call in robberies with the slightest pretext.

Would an older, more experienced deputy make a different decision? He would because we saw the older deputy at the scene put the male suspect in custody without incident. Good judgment comes with experience. We don’t cultivate good judgment by firing young deputies when they make mistakes, even bad mistakes.

Finally, should race be a factor when hiring and promoting people? I believe it should. Diverse groups make better decisions. The science supporting this is robust. Just walk through city hall or my law office, and you will see this is something we pay attention to in choosing management. As long as it doesn’t compromise the quality of the leadership, it is, and should be a consideration. But, for certain community members to be outraged that any personnel decision is not made exclusively on race is ludicrous. To target a Captain because of the color of his skin is just wrong, and I don’t think any part of our community disagrees: Black, white, or brown.

I know this will not be popular with many people on both sides. And I should probably listen to my friends, who cautioned me to stay out of it. But I think I have an obligation to share my thoughts with the hard-working families of the Antelope Valley, if for no other reason than to get their opinions. How else do we know if we are on the right path if we don’t let others know what path we are following? I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and for your input. We are in this together, and together we will find a better way forward.

Be well,
Mayor R Rex Parris, Lancaster, CA.


On July 11th, former Sheriff Alex Villanueva, jumped into the discussion involving the Lancaster incident.

However, the “discipline” he criticizes Luna for imposing is no different than the what transpired under his administration which many within the department referred to as “retaliation” even leading to lawsuits against the Sheriff and the department. 

Villaneuva publicly addressed the Palmdale Use of Force occurring on his administration on his Twitter, defending his position as to why the Use of Force and the body cam footage was not released to the public under the transparency promise he made took control of the department.


Although Villanueva addressed the incident internally, department sources say the case should have been submitted to Internal Criminal Investigation Bureau (ICIB) to determine whether the actions of the deputy rose to the level of criminal.

It seems the heat has hit an all time high for the leaders, citizens and law enforcement in Antelope Valley.

Literally and figuratively.

This is a developing story.

Cece Woods

The Current Report Editor in Chief Cece Woods started The Local Malibu, an activism based platform in 2014. The publication was instrumental in the success of pro-preservation ballot measures and seating five top vote-getters in the Malibu City Council elections.

During the summer of 2018, Woods exposed the two-year law enforcement cover-up in the Malibu Creek State Park Shootings, and a few short months later provided the most comprehensive local news coverage during the Woolsey Fire attracting over one million hits across her social media platforms.

Since 2020, Woods was the only journalist reporting on the on-going public corruption involving former L.A. Metro CEO Phil Washington. Woods worked with Political Corruption expert Adam Loew, DC Watchdog organizations and leaders in the Capitol exposing Washington which ultimately led to the withdrawal of his nomination to head the FAA.

Woods also founded Malibu based 90265 Magazine and Cali Mag devoted to the authentic southern California lifestyle.

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