SAN PEDRO, LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles city councilman is expressing outrage, claiming that sheriff’s deputies were seen on video “dumping” a homeless man with possible mental health issues in San Pedro.
Residents have long been concerned that deputies are dropping off homeless people with mental issues into neighboring jurisdictions rather than getting them services they need.
In this case, it is believed that the man who was released in San Pedro was wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant. Rather than arresting the man and getting him assistance from public services, the deputies were seen dropping him off in San Pedro – in the jurisdiction of the LAPD. The sheriff’s department patrols nearby jurisdictions including communities like Rancho Palos Verdes.
The sheriff’s department is denying that it engaged in dumping. Instead, the department said, the deputies dropped off the man near a bus stop where he could use his MTA pass.
Buscaino said he introduced a city council motion calling for an investigation into the incident.
“I am deeply concerned after seeing video of LA County Sheriff’s deputies unloading a homeless individual with an outstanding arrest warrant, displaying characteristics of mental illness on San Pedro streets near the border with Rancho Palos Verdes,” Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino wrote on Facebook.
“This happened on the same day that the LA County Board of Supervisors called for an updated definition to make it easier for first responders to place gravely disabled persons into care. Now is not the time to pawn off those with mental health issues onto adjacent jurisdictions, but rather, for all cities to step up to the plate and provide housing and services for the homeless immediately.”
The video was captured by local resident Mike Olivieri and posted on Buscaino’s Facebook page.
Video provided to Buscaino’s office by another resident showed the man a short time later clearly in distress on the ground being examined by paramedics across from a 7-Eleven store in the area.
The homeless man was later questioned by LAPD officers at the 7-Eleven and arrested on the warrant, the Daily Breeze reported.
The Sheriff’s Department issued a strong denial that it was engaging in dumping.
“This call is not a case of dumping,” the department said.
The department said deputies made contact with the homeless man, identified as John Bryan, that afternoon around 4 p.m.
The deputies say they asked him if he needed assistance. He asked for a ride to Pasadena, where he told them he lives. They said they couldn’t drive him there, but they would bring him to a bus stop in San Pedro, as he had an MTA pass.
During the drive he asked to be dropped off a few blocks from the bus stop so he could go to a convenience store, they said.
“Homelessness and mental distress are some of our society’s greatest challenges and a source of frustration to the community, service providers, as well as those in need of assistance,” the department said.
“While we understand Los Angeles Police Department arrested him for a $412 fare evasion warrant, such a minor violation does not meet the minimum threshold for a Sheriff’s Department incarceration, due to jail overcrowding. Our deputies performed an act of compassionate service to the best of their abilities for a Los Angeles County resident who is iconic of the social crises we see each and every day.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said she was concerned about the man seen in the video.
“Mr. Bryan clearly needed help,” Hahn said. “I question whether or not our Sheriff’s deputies could have done more to get him the help he needed before they left him and drove away.”
Hahn has asked county caseworkers to visit Bryan at the jail to help him connect with services for the homeless and shelter.