Another day, another story of police who have no self-control. This time it was in rural Los Angeles County and it was an innocent elderly man who died.
LA County Sheriff’s deputies play SWAT games.
Eugene Mallory was a retired engineer. He lived with his wife and stepson in the tiny community of Littlerock, in the high desert near Lancaster. On the morning of June 27, 2013, their quiet life was changed forever.
Acting on an anonymous tip, LA County sheriff’s deputies — led by Detective Patrick Hobbs — descended upon the trailer home of Mallory and his family. The “tip” said that Mallory was manufacturing methamphetamine in the home and Hobbs claimed that he “smelled chemicals” when standing downwind from the home (yeah, right there with ya). This, they claimed, was enough reason for them to crash the front gate at oh-god-thirty in the morning. The clamor brought Tonya Pate, Mallory’s wife, outside. From a trailer next-door, came Adrian Lamos, the stepson, and his friend. A handyman on the premises also gave himself up without incident. But Mallory was still inside the home. What to do?
If you’re LA County Sheriff’s deputies, you bust in and shoot the man lying in his bed. Ah, but that’s not what the report filed by Sgt. John Bones said. According to him, Mallory was in the hallway waving a gun and coming their way. Bones says that he told Mallory to “drop the gun” and then fired. There’s just one or two small problems with that scenario. One: the recording made at the time of the raid clearly indicates that Bones shot first and issued the order later. Two: Mallory died in his bed. That’s right — he was never in the hallway. And the gun he supposedly wielded? On the nightstand. Unfired.
A County Coroner caught the deputies in their lie when he arrived on the scene. The pool of blood in Mallory’s bed indicated that he had died there. Oh, and meth? Not a trace. Nothing. Nada. So much for Det. Hobbs’ gifted nose. So, there was no direct threat to deputies, no actual reason for them to have been there and they lied about the shooting. Verdict? The Justice System Integrity Division of the LASD found that Bones “acted lawfully in self-defense and in defense of others.” Integrity? They should consider a name change. Maybe to The Justice System Cover-up Division.
Mallory’s widow files a lawsuit.
Yes, another lawsuit. But, in this case, it is completely justified. Ms. Pate lost her husband through the unlawful actions of LA County Sheriff’s deputies. They had no reason to be at the home in the first place. The supposed tipster, if there was one at all, was unreliable. Det. Hobbs is specifically called out in the lawsuit:
At all times stated herein, HOBBS either lied under oath making these representations, knowing that the material facts he stated to the court were false or were likely untrue, or were made by him with a reckless disregard for the truth, with the further intent to deceive the court and to intentionally deprive DECEDENT and Plaintiff of their constitutional rights under the law.
Hobbs lied in his report, saying that there was a suspected “clandestine meth lab” on the property. The fact is that not one single piece of evidence was found to corroborate this claim. The property had been inspected several times before that day by the LASD itself and they had found nothing. The report says that they did find “marijuana and growing equipment” on the premises that day. No size was given and nobody was arrested or questioned about it so it couldn’t have been much of a growing operation.
As if this weren’t bad enough, Ms. Pate was denied control of Mallory’s body after the autopsy. The LASD called out-of-state relatives, rather than his wife, and were instructed that the body be cremated. The LASD did so without ever contacting Ms. Pate.
LASD tried to hide the truth.
When discrepancies between the report and the evidence appeared, the sheriff’s department tried to cover them up. They said that the marijuana was the reason for the raid. If so, what about the “informant” and Det. Hobbs’ wonderful nose? They said that Mallory “raised a semi-automatic handgun in response to deputies.” The coroner says otherwise. The evidence points to gross misconduct on the part of Det. Hobbs, Sgt. Bones and the 50 other John Doe officers named in the suit.
The LA County Sheriff’s office has been under scrutiny before. Over a dozen deputies were arrested for alleged inmate abuse last December. Back in 2010, the LASD hired 80 people whose backgrounds were less than stellar and certainly not suited for law enforcement (I wonder if any of them were involved in this incident?). The LASD was also found to engage in racial profiling and harassment last summer.
Tim Cushing of Tech Dirt summed it up perfectly:
So, the Drug War rolls on, costing citizens billions of dollars, some of it in the form of lawsuit settlements. A dangerous 80-year-old alleged meth manufacturer was taken out, making the world a safer place, because eventual, alleged marijuana growers are apparently equally as dangerous and undeserving of due process.
The Drug War is a dismal failure. It costs billions of dollars. It has cost tens of thousands of lives both through death and incarceration. It costs lives that are taken in the overzealous actions of law enforcement. There is no sane reason for an 80-year-old innocent man to be shot to death in his bed. Our police and sheriffs are there to protect us and see that the law is upheld. Apparently, many can’t manage to do this. Especially within the framework of our insane War on Drugs, under which they are able to confiscate property without due cause. They can shoot and never ask questions at all, much less later. This has got to stop.
Here’s a video report courtesy of Reason TV: