LOS ANGELES, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- A federal jury has found Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca personally liable for injuries to an inmate but sheriff's department officials promised an appeal.
The jury found for Tyler Willis, who filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in October 2010, alleging sheriff's deputies beat him in 2009 while he was being held in the Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles awaiting trial. The lawsuit alleges deputies punched and kicked him, used a stun gun on him, and hit him in the ankle with a heavy metal flashlight.
If the verdict stands, it would be the first time Baca has been held personally liable for use of force by deputies, and he could have to pay Willis $100,000, the Los Angeles Times said.
The jury found for Willis last week after a weeklong trial, the newspaper reported Thursday.
The jury ruled the conduct of Deputies Anthony Vasquez, Mark Farino and Pedro Guerrero, as well as of Capt. Daniel Cruz and Baca, was "malicious, oppressive or in reckless disregard" of Willis' rights. The jury awarded Willis $165,000 in punitive rights, and the Times said Baca's co-defendants have agreed to split the cost among themselves.
Mark Pachowicz, an attorney for Willis, said the verdict means the jury determined "this goes all the way to the top."
Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said Willis had "brought on" the use of force, and the department will appeal the verdict.