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LA County Pays $2.75M To Compton Man With Mental Illness Beaten By Deputies

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a $2.75 million settlement to a Compton man with mental illness who was beaten by L.A. County Sheriff's deputies during an arrest in 2014.

Barry Montgomery
Barry Montgomery after he was assaulted by Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies on July 14, 2014. (CBSLA)

On the evening of July 14, 2014, deputies confronted then-29-year-old Barry Montgomery in Enterprise Park after smelling what they believed to be marijuana, according to the sheriff's department at the time.

According to a summary provided to the board by sheriff's deputies, Montgomery swore at the deputies, name dropped a Compton-based street gang, and then told them, "I'm going to kill both of you with my deuce-deuce."

The alleged reference was to a .22 caliber handgun.

Montgomery then landed an unprovoked punch, hitting one deputy's shoulder when the man ducked, according to the pair of sworn officers.

When the two deputies called for backup, a third deputy arrived on the scene. All three admitted to punching Montgomery multiple times in a struggle they characterized as trying to get him under control while fearing he was reaching for a weapon.

According to family members at the time, Montgomery had been diagnosed as a schizophrenic with Tourrets syndrome, was very timid and was on medication that night he went to the park to play basketball.

"They beat him for no reason, because he doesn't respond. He does not respond, he does not talk," a family member said.

Montgomery was ultimately handcuffed and taken to a hospital with several injuries. He suffered facial fractures -- including a fractured eye socket -- and seven broken ribs, among other injuries, according to Paulette Simpson-Gipson, then-president of the Compton branch of the NAACP.

He was eventually charged with a felony count of resisting arrest and a misdemeanor count of marijuana possession. During a preliminary hearing, two of the three deputies offered conflicting testimony about their use of force. The charges were eventually dropped after the court declared Montgomery mentally incompetent to stand trial and ordered outpatient treatment with the Department of Mental Health.

In August 2014, the NAACP called for a federal investigation and alleged Montgomery was beaten for 25 minutes while handcuffed.

"We see no justification for the brutality inflicted to Mr. Barry Montgomery," Simpson-Gipson said at the time. "The beating is a clear violation of his civil rights."

In their suit against the county, Montgomery's family alleged that the deputies fired their weapons, shot Montgomery with a stun gun and dragged him into a nearby restroom to assault him, according to the board summary.

In 2015, the sheriff's department Executive Force Review Committee found the three deputies' actions were within department policy.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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