On Wednesday, Rolling Stone reported that Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is named in a lawsuit stemming from an incident in which deputies allegedly used a Taser on a man having a mental health episode and shot him with rubber bullets.
"The incident in question occurred on the morning of December 1, 2020 in Inglewood — a city within Los Angeles county, southwest of downtown L.A., near the airport," reported Tim Dickinson. "That morning, Inglewood resident Larry Jefferson had been experiencing 'a mental health episode,' according to his lawsuit against the sheriff's department. Jefferson's family had called 911 out of concern for his well being, but nobody came to help, the suit says."
Jefferson then ran out into the street after a car crash and tried to direct traffic, which was where he encountered sheriff's deputies who allegedly used "unreasonable and excessive force" against him.
"Jefferson was not armed, and the lawsuit insists he made no threatening gestures toward the deputies," said the report. "Regardless, the lawmen swarmed out of their vehicle and not only tased Jefferson, the lawsuit claims, but shot him with rubber bullets. The less-lethal strike, as seen in cell phone video posted to TMZ the day after the incident, sent Jefferson sprawling onto the pavement. (Jefferson was left with severe road rash on his hand and shoulder. The lawsuit contends that 'Mr. Jefferson suffered great physical and emotional pain and continues to suffer fear, anxiety, [and] insomnia.')"
Villanueva, referred to by critics as "the Donald Trump" of L.A. County, has become a lightning rod for controversy. He has refused to enforce a mask mandate issued by the county's department of health, and has struggled to justify this decision in public interviews.