LA County Sheriff's Office

LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who was fired in 2018 for using unreasonable force while arresting a man in Lancaster in 2016 has been reinstated, it was reported Thursday.

This is the second deputy who was fired prior to Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s election to return to duty since the new sheriff took office.

Michael Courtial was fired last June but has since been reinstated and assigned to the sheriff’s Palmdale station, the Los Angeles Times reported.

An agreement to reinstate Courtial was reached with the input of county counsel but was done without the sheriff’s involvement, Villanueva said in a statement.

In July 2016, Courtial and other deputies responded to re­ports of a man trying to break into vehicles along Ehrlich (Elm) Av­enue in Lancaster and lo­ca­ted the man in a pickup truck, ac­cord­ing to a memo by the Los Angeles County district at­tor­ney’s office obtained by The Times.

Courtial charged toward the truck and kicked it as other dep­u­ties approached the truck, the memo said. He opened a door of the truck and ordered the man not to move, shouting he would shoot the suspect if he disobeyed. Cour­tial told another deputy to use a Taser on the man and the dep­uty complied, then Courtial dragged the man out of the truck and onto the ground, the memo said.

As Courtial pulled the man from the truck, he punched him sev­eral times and continued to hit him in the back and shoul­ders as the suspect was on his stom­ach with his right hand under his body, the memo said.

The suspect was hospitalized and treated for a traumatic brain in­jury, a bone chip fracture, Taser dart wounds and scrapes, the memo said.

However, it was impossible to know whether all the injuries were caused by deputies because the man, who was found to have a blood-alcohol level of .209, said he had head-butted someone be­fore the altercation with dep­u­ties.

Courtial was not prosecuted by the district attorney’s office for as­sault under color of authority be­cause investigators said the man was resisting deputies when Courtial used force. The dis­trict attorney’s office did, how­ever, find Courtial’s actions to be ex­cessive.

The sheriff’s department found Courtial in violation of de­­part­­ment policies, in­clu­ding one governing de-es­calation and unreasonable force, The Times reported.

“You used force which was unreasonable and/or unnecessary and/or ex­cess­ive … when you punched [the suspect] numerous times after throwing him to the ground while there were adequate per­son­nel on scene to control [the sus­pect],” North Pat­rol Div­is­ion Chief John Ben­e­dict wrote in a dis­cip­lin­ary letter to Cour­tial, which is partially re­dact­ed, and was obtained by the newspaper.

Villanueva was heavily criticized last month for his rehiring of Deputy Caren Carl Mandoyan, who was fired for violating de­part­ment policies regarding do­mestic violence and ma­king false statements to investigators.

Video surfaced in March of Mandoyan attempting to break-in to his ex-girl­friend’s El Segundo ap­art­ment in 2014. The ex-girl­friend, who was also a sheriff’s deputy at the time, accused Mandoyan of domestic violence and sought a temporary re­strain­ing order against him.

In an interview with NBC4, Mandoyan said the video doesn’t tell the whole story.

“I was trying to get her attention to let me back in,” Mandoyan told the station. “I had a plastic broomstick (and) was tapping on the glass.”

He told NBC4 he and his ex-girlfriend later ex­changed text messages and they showed the incident was not violent.

Mandoyan served as a volunteer and advisor dur­ing Villanueva’s cam­paign for sheriff last year, but the sheriff has denied that played any role in Man­doyan’s re­in­state­ment.

At a Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meet­ing last month, Villanueva said he had only rehired one fired deputy, Man­doy­an, and that he would hold off on any other re­in­statements.

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