A watchdog panel that oversees the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on Thursday asked county attorneys to look into whether a special investigative unit that has targeted critics of Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s broke the law.
With the unanimous vote, the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission sought legal guidance on crimes Villanueva or the department as a whole may have committed by operating the Civil Rights and Public Integrity Detail, a team of nine investigators that reports to one of Villanueva’s top aides.
The panel also sought to push back against Villanueva’s refusal to answer questions about the unit. The commission had subpoenaed Villanueva to appear before them Thursday, but the sheriff said he was too busy to attend.
The vote requested county lawyers to “consider all legal remedies” for compelling Villanueva to appear, including asking a judge for a court hearing over whether the sheriff should be found in contempt. The commission authorized a new subpoena directing Undersheriff Tim Murakami, who supervises the team, to testify about it.
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