The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has launched an investigation into a video posted on YouTube that shows a deputy ignoring a call of a shooting while recording a personal message to his ex-girlfriend.
The undated video was made public last month by Priscilla Anderson after she felt L.A. County Sheriff’s officials had ignored her when she reported the deputy’s misconduct in emails and phone calls.
“I posted them for myself,” Anderson told The Times on Thursday. “No one was doing anything; all the emails, phone calls — nothing. I just wanted to put it out there and let people know what was going on.”
In the video, the deputy is in uniform, wearing sunglasses and sitting inside his patrol car, recording a message for Anderson when a radio call of a shooting comes through. The deputy, who has been identified by the Sheriff’s Department as Jeremy Fennell, 26, pauses to hear the call before speaking to the camera.
“Someone is getting shot right now, damn…I know I got to go but I’m not going to go because you’re mad. So I’m not going to go,” Fennell says in the video.
“Someone’s getting shot — oh well … oh well … because I want to make things right with me and you first. Because you’re mad for no reason and you don’t need to be mad.”
Sheriff Jim McDonnell said that Fennell, even before the discovery of the video, was relieved of duty because of an arrest and is now subject of internal and criminal investigation.
“I am very disturbed at what appears on the video,” McDonnell said from Washington, D.C., noting that “the behavior does not reflect any of the department’s values.”
In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, the Sheriff’s Department said it was “aware of the video and is thoroughly investigating the circumstances surrounding the case.”
The department said Fennell was relieved of duty on Jan. 25 pending the outcome of the investigation. No further details were provided.
Fennell’s video was first reported by WitnessLA, a nonprofit news site about criminal justice. The news organization also reported that he had been arrested on a felony offense the day he was relieved of duty.
Four months into the relationship, Anderson said she wanted to end her relationship with Fennell because he was becoming controlling and abusing her verbally.
Fennell could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Anderson claims that between Jan. 23 and 24, Fennell choked, hit and pointed his department-issued gun at her, then had her point the weapon at him as he stated “I can’t live like this.”
“I was scared,” Anderson said. “I felt very terrified. Everything was all over the place; my nerves, I was crying, I didn’t what to do and how to react to it.
“After I was able to leave and go home, I knew he wasn’t going to stop,” she said. “He continued to call me after I had left and I needed to go ahead and do something more.”
According to sheriff’ arrest records, a man with the same name and date of birth as Fennell was arrested Jan. 25 and booked in county jail on suspicion of domestic violence. He was released the next day after he posted a $50,000 bail.
Anderson received a final restraining order on Feb. 23. She also began to post the videos online. Among the recordings, Fennell is threatening to jail a citizen who approached his patrol car.
Anderson said the videos were mostly recorded while they were dating between September and January. She said other videos that she has not made public shows deputies recording themselves while driving their patrol cars and responding to calls.
“You can hear them every time saying ‘we’re not allowed to use our phones while driving’ and they’re recording as their driving or getting ready to pull people over,” Anderson said.
Ben Meiselas, an attorney with Geragos & Geragos who is representing Anderson, said the law firm calling on the department for a robust investigation into the Sheriff’s Lakewood station.
“We want to hear from the sheriff about what he’s going to do about this because this is one of the most despicable breaches of trust of the public at large and of Priscilla Anderson,” Meiselas said. “If the sheriff is willing to cover physical abuse by their own officers, what does that say about other victims of abuse and withing the community at large?”
“We are very concerned [about what is depicted in the videos] and the department is taking appropriate action,” the Sheriff’s Department said in its statement.
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