Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and members of the county Board of Supervisors sparred Wednesday over the recent decision of a judge to overturn the sheriff's reinstatement of a deputy who had been fired in 2016 over a domestic violence case.
Ahead of a news conference about a fatal shooting in South L.A. last week, Villanueva spoke at the podium and condemned the Board of Supervisors, which had filed a lawsuit over the reinstatement of Caren Carl Mandoyan.
Mandoyan was fired in 2016 and was allowed to return to his job soon after Villanueva took office in 2018. He was recorded on video breaking into the home of a fellow deputy he had been involved with and lied about the incident to internal affairs, according to records obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
A judge issued a preliminary injunction to remove Mandoyan as the case awaited trial, but he said the evidence so far suggested the county would probably prevail, the L.A. Times reported.
On Wednesday, the sheriff said there is evidence supporting his decision to allow Mandoyan to return to his job as a deputy.
“This is not about one discipline case. This is a labor issue," the sheriff asserted. "A systemic effort to deny due process to union members, and this disproportionally targeted African American and Latino employees."
Villanueva said the Board of Supervisors spends an inordinate amount of taxpayer dollars "only to stop an elected sheriff from doing his job."
"I wish the board would focus and allow me to do the job I was elected to do, which is keeping the community safe, providing a better standard of care for those in my custody and helping to get roofs over the heads of our homeless," Villanueva said.
In a statement to KTLA, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said "there is no upside to having the Sheriff’s Department tarnished by reinstating deputies who are not fit to serve."
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said Villanueva violated a court order to stop referring to Mandoyan as a "deputy."
"We have a deep responsibility to challenge any elected official and uphold the law no matter how personally loyal the Sheriff is to a colleague and supporter who was terminated because of domestic violence and lying about it," Kuehl said. "Once the employee review process ruling receives a final decision by the Civil Service Commission, the Sheriff, just like any other department head, cannot go back and rehire the terminated employee."
Supervisor Kathryn Barger, meanwhile, expressed support for Villanueva but declined to comment on Mandoyan's case because it's already being decided in court, spokesman Tony Bell told KTLA.
KTLA's Steve Bien contributed to this report.