A Los Angeles County deputy sheriff, recently returned to the field after his sixth deputy-involved shooting earned him a desk job for a while, was removed from the field again after his seventh shooting two weeks ago.
Deputy Anthony Forlano came to the attention of the Los Angeles Times after the county Office of Independent Review (OIR) brought it to the attention of the County Board of Supervisors in a September 18 letter. Michael Gennaco, the office’s chief attorney, told the Times, “Seven shootings in the Sheriff's Department is extraordinary, compared to the number of patrol deputies and how many they get involved in, which is usually zero or one.”
Three of the seven shootings, reportedly over a 10-year period, involved unarmed suspects, according to the Times. A gun was found at the scene of the latest incident, where the suspect was shot dead after allegedly struggling with Forlano and another deputy.
Gennaco, who did not name the 18-year veteran in his report, told the board that the deputy was also given a desk job in April 2008 after the deputy’s fifth shooting, but managed to get back in the field after transferring to the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Bureau. The sixth shooting occurred in October 2011. Forlano was disciplined and benched again for “tactical deficiencies.” The Times said it received Forlano’s name from the department.
Gennaco said his office, which handles about 250 administrative investigations and 100 deputy-involved shootings a year, was unaware that the deputy had a field assignment at the time of the September 9 shooting. Then-Undersheriff Paul Tanaka assented to Forlano’s most recent return to the field and told CBS News that he had been the one who put Forlano behind a desk in 2011.
Tanaka resigned from the department on August 1 amid an ongoing federal probe of allegations of mismanagement, abuse and misconduct. Two weeks later, he announced he will run for election as sheriff in 2014 against embattled incumbant Lee Baca.
The department had 18 deputy-involved shootings where they hit someone and 10 where they did not, according to OIS. Their aim was better in 2011, when 32 shootings were hits and six were not. There were 23 hits and 20 non-hits in 2010, and 27 and 15, respectively, in 2009.
Although Gennaco told the supervisors that Sheriff Lee Baca has been a strong proponent of benching deputies who commit multiple shootings and tactical errors, the department doesn’t not have a “formal process” for doing that or reviewing the matter when a return to the field is requested.
Gennaco hoped someone would do something about that. “We look to LASD for continued work on this matter and understand that such work has already been commenced,” he wrote.