4th top official accuses LA Sheriff Villanueva of coverup

A fourth high-ranking official is set to file a lawsuit against LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, accusing him of a coverup in connection with the leaked jail video showing a deputy with his department kneeling on a handcuffed inmate's head.

The claimant, former Captain Angela Walton, alleges Villanueva tried to enlist her to write a fake memo and help commit fraud in connection with the coverup. Walton said she refused. 

Additionally, Walton claims Villanueva lied about when he first saw the video and that Walton was the one who referred the matter to ICB before Nov. 18.

"Claimant is the individual who made original contact with ICIB, referred Deputy Johnson criminally to ICIB, and later relieved him of duty. Any claims by Sheriff Villanueva that he was the Department employee who first undertook these steps is demonstrably false," the lawsuit states.

Walton was demoted on April 18 "in retaliation for her protected whistleblowing activities, including but not limited to refusing to participate in Sheriff Villanueva's fraudulent kneeling video timeline," according to the lawsuit.

Walton is the latest high-ranking official to file a lawsuit against Villanueva. Former  LASD Chief Lajuana Haselrig, former LASD Assistant Sheriff Robin Limon, and former LASD Commander Allen Castellano have all filed separate lawsuits in recent weeks connected to Villanueva's alleged coverup of the incident.

The leaked jail video appears to show Deputy Douglas Johnson pressing his knee on the head of handcuffed inmate Enzo Escalante for three minutes. The altercation began when Escalante allegedly punched Johnson in the face. Johnson and other deputies wrestled Escalante to the ground, with Johnson putting his knee on the inmate’s head.

One deputy handcuffed Escalante's hands behind his back and he began to lay still on the ground, but Johnson kept his knee on the inmate's head for at least three additional minutes. Escalante's hands and feet were eventually bound together, and he was restrained to a wheelchair before he was taken to a hospital.

Johnson wrote in a report that he knelt on Escalante's head in an attempt to control the inmate from thrashing around and striking deputies.

All lawsuits question Villanueva’s claim that he learned of the incident eight months after it happened and took immediate action.

Villanueva continues to deny any allegations. 

Most recently, new documents claim to dispute these recent allegations of a coverup by Villanueva. The documents outline the events of the controversial incident, including observations and excerpts from the department's policy manual, as well as "digital evidence" like Skype records obtained through the LASD's Cyber Crimes Bureau.