A police officer with the Veterans Affairs Police Department (VAPD) has been indicted on allegations that he assaulted and beat a man with excessive force at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center.
According to an announcement from the Justice Department, Juan Anthony Carrillo, 45, was indicted last week on federal civil rights and assault charges. The charge states that he allegedly used a department-issued baton to illegally strike a man approximately 45 times in 41 seconds. The victim is a 34-year-old man identified only as “R.V” in the indictment.
At approximately 4 AM on January 16, 2022, another VA police officer detained R.V. on the grounds of the VA Medical Center. Carrillo arrived to assist and proceeded to strike R.V. Injuries sustained from the alleged beating included bleeding and lacerations on both of R.V.’s legs.
The indictment notes that most, if not all, of the baton strikes were delivered while the other officer was on top of the man. It also adds that Carrillo was about 60 pounds heavier than R.V and the second officer was about 8 inches taller and about 85 pounds heavier.
Carillo is further alleged to have prepared a misleading VAPD incident report to justify his use of force. “Carrillo’s report misleadingly and falsely claimed that victim R.V. was violently kicking his legs and refusing to show his hands, while also omitting the number of strikes defendant Carrillo used,” according to the indictment.
An indictment only contains allegations of a crime and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Carrillo is charged with deprivation of rights under color of law resulting in bodily injury and assault with a dangerous weapon with the intent to do bodily harm. Both offenses as alleged carry statutory maximum penalties of 10 years in federal prison.
“Our Constitution protects all of us from excessive force inflicted by law enforcement officers, and when that standard is violated the Justice Department will take action to vindicate the rights enjoyed by all Americans,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “We deeply appreciate the difficult jobs faced every day by law enforcement officers, the vast majority of whom act with professionalism and integrity. But when an officer acts in a manner that violates the civil rights of another person, we will respond to uphold the rule of law and maintain public trust in our system of justice.”
What is the VA Police Force?
The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a police force that is responsible for protecting VA facilities. According to the VA’s website, “The primary role of the VA Police is to deter and stop crime, keep order, and investigate crimes that may have happened within the legal authority of the VA. Some cases are investigated by special agents from the VA Office of the Inspector General (OIG).”
Much like other police forces, the VA Police have local structures that include different ranks ranging from sergeant to chief. There are specialty positions as well such as K-9 and bicycle patrols. VA Police also partner with local law enforcement on matters such as information sharing and joint training drills.