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Double-leg amputee files suit against Sheriff’s Department

Stemming from Lancaster sniper hoax

OW Staff Writer | 7/31/2020, midnight

A double-leg amputee is suing Los Angeles County and Sheriff Alex Villanueva, alleging three deputies barged into his Lancaster apartment and threw him to the ground in the wake of a false report by another deputy nearby that he was under fire from a sniper.

Jaime Flores alleges civil rights violations, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He seeks unspecified damages in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed on Monday.

Former Deputy Angel Reinosa, then a 21-year-old rookie, reported that he was shot in the shoulder while standing in the parking lot of the Lancaster sheriff’s station in the 500 block of West Lancaster Boulevard about 2:50 p.m. last Aug. 21.

The ambush report triggered a full LASD response, including a large containment perimeter and an hours-long search of an apartment building where Reinosa said the shot originated.

Villanueva announced about a week later that the shooting claim was a hoax and that Reinosa was no longer with the department. He has since been charged with two felony counts of insurance fraud and one misdemeanor count of filing a false police report.

Reinosa’s attorney, Dmitry Gorin, has denied any wrongdoing on the part of his client, saying the ex-deputy believed “strongly that he was shot’’ and received “extensive medical treatment at the hospital.’’

Flores lived in an apartment complex in the 500 block of West Jackman Street and was asleep on his bed when three deputies barged into his unit with rifles drawn, the suit states. One of the deputies pushed Flores’ wheelchair out of his way and joined with his colleagues in pointing their weapons at the plaintiff, asking, “Where is the gun?,’’ the suit alleges.

Flores replied he had no weapon and inquired about why the deputies were there, telling them they had no right to be in his apartment and asking if they had a warrant, the suit states. He showed the deputies his deformed hands to prove he was unable to hold a gun and tried to sit up so it was clear he was a double-amputee from the knees down and therefore not a menace to them, the suit states.

Despite seeing he was an amputee, two of the deputies reportedly lifted Flores up and threw him across the room, the suit alleges. The plaintiff used both hands to brace himself, but his legs landed on the floor and he suffered an open wound, according to his court papers, which further allege the deputies used excessive force because Flores was not a threat to them and did not resist arrest.