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Crime & Safety, Drugs and Alcohol, Opinion

We’re a bit disturbed by a report in the West Hollywood Patch with the headline, “Witnesses Allege Brutality in Weho Deputies’ Arrest of Man on Meth.”

In the incident, first reported by Weho Daily in real-time as the incident occurred, deputies responded to a report of an erratic shirtless male, apparently under the influence of a substance, running through traffic and intentionally putting himself in harms way. At one point, witnesses said that he tried to put his head under the wheel of an MTA bus. Numerous deputies were on the scene within minutes trying to subdue the man.

The strength of several deputies was not enough to stop the man, nor were two shocks from a Taser device. Even while handcuffed, the suspect, later identified as 27 year old Daniel Dubiel, continued to fight. Apparently, he only stopped fighting when he fell unconscious. There are some claims in the Patch report that he may have been knocked unconscious during the fight when his head hit a patrol car, but that has not been conclusively determined.

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Patch uses the term ‘brutality’ in the headline, however the witnesses are not quoted in the article using that specific term. The allegation of ‘brutality’ is much more serious than an allegation of excessive force. But in this incident, even claims of excessive force are disputed by witnesses directly involved in the incident.

In a book on the subject, Hubert Locke describes the common perception of police brutality as “the wanton vicious beating of a person in custody, usually while handcuffed, and usually taking place somewhere between the scene of the arrest and the station house.”

There is simply no evidence that deputies were engaged in a “wanton viscous beating” of the suspect, nor do the bulk of witness statements suggest that was the case.

Weho Daily has received numerous witness accounts of the incident, and none of them dispute that the suspect was continually fighting with deputies until he fell unconscious. One witness that Patch relies upon in their report was not actually a witness. Marne Carmean, a West Hollywood resident, came upon the scene after the fighting had stopped and recounted to Patch what she heard from others.

On the other hand, Weho Daily reader Shane Simpson was in the thick of the incident, and claims that the deputies exercised restraint in dealing with Dubiel.

“I was there too and I think it’s amazing that the deputies showed the restraint that they did. This guy laid down under my car and was fighting with a citizen before the cops got here,” said Simpson. “He was punching and kicking at him and looked to have superhuman strength. I’m just glad no innocent bystanders were hurt by this guy.”

We also listened in live over a police scanner as the incident went down, and those broadcasts clearly reflected the intense struggle that was going on due to the resistance of Dubiel. This was one of the most out of control, combative subjects that we have ever heard the Sheriff deal with.

Deputies deal with people on meth and other substances every day, along with people who are mentally unstable for other reasons. Fighting and struggling with a suspect is a very dangerous situation for deputies to be in, and they put themselves at risk as part of their duty to protect us… the general public.

It is unclear as to what alternative actions would be recommended by those alleging excessive force in this incident. Were deputies to step back to try to reason with such a man? It is very hard to believe that any injuries sustained by Dubiel were inflicted in a “wanton viscous” manner by deputies, and several witness accounts corroborate this.

West Hollywood Sheriff’s Deputies and other first responders in and around our area deserve our respect and the benefit of any slim doubts that may exist by a few individuals regarding the handling of incidents such as this.  And while it is fairly clear that deputies exercised restraint in this incident, the same cannot be said for West Hollywood Patch’s editorial discretion in reporting on it.

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What do you think?

1 Comment

  1. Chris Bray says:

    Do LASD patrol cars have dashboard cameras? If they do, the tapes are subject to the Public Records Act, and would show very clearly what the deputies had to deal with. There’s no reason to rely exclusively on witnesses if there’s videotape from multiple vantage points.

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