Delray Beach, Fla. – A California woman, Yeayo Russell, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Los Angeles County and several unnamed sheriff’s deputies in connection with a troubling incident that occurred in July 2022.
The lawsuit alleges the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has a history of using excessive force against Antelope Valley residents, specifically targeting Black women.
According to attorney Jamon Hicks, who represents Russell and her son, the interaction occurred when deputies stopped a car in Palmdale for driving without headlights at night and detecting the smell of alcohol during the stop.
Russell and her infant were among four females and three infants in the vehicle, all passengers. Deputies noticed that the babies were being held in their mothers’ arms instead of being secured in car seats. Based on this observation, they decided to arrest the mother and the male driver for felony child endangerment.
The tweet below verifies the news:
A California woman who was seen on body-camera video being punched by a deputy as she held her newborn baby has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Los Angeles County and several unnamed sheriff’s deputies stemming from the 2022 incident. https://t.co/6fdxp0evZ5
— CNN (@CNN) July 27, 2023
During the confrontation, deputies used force on two of the women to attempt to gain control of the infants. One of these instances involved a 15-year-old mother holding her 3-week-old infant. The body-camera footage revealed that a deputy punched the woman twice in the face after she refused to hand over the child.
The video captures the woman’s emotional plea, “You all are gonna have to shoot me dead to take my baby from my f**king arms … I’m not about to let you take my baby on my life.” Despite her resistance, deputies moved in to take the child, and a deputy was seen lunging his arm toward the woman.
You can see the video below:
Russell’s attorney emphasizes that the incident goes beyond the physical assault, as the mother was separated from her child for an extended period during her custody.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff, Robert Luna, stated during a news conference on July 12 that he took disciplinary action against the involved deputy, removing him from field duty. He condemned the use of force and expressed his concerns about the incident, which was brought to his attention after being reviewed by the Internal Affairs Bureau.
Former sheriff Alex Villanueva offered an alternative perspective, suggesting that the deputies intervened because they feared Russell was harming her child and using him as a shield. However, Russell’s attorney dismisses this notion, asserting that the video evidence supports the mother’s innocence in the situation.
As the federal civil rights lawsuit progresses, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will likely face scrutiny regarding its use of force and handling of such incidents, particularly when it involves vulnerable individuals and potential racial bias.
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