Charles Ornstein and Julie Cart, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 13, 2006
A black inmate died Sunday afternoon after a racially motivated fight at Los Angeles County’s Men’s Central Jail. He is the second inmate to die in nine days of unrelenting riots between blacks and Latinos in the county jail system.
The 38-year-old inmate, whose name was not released, took part in a brawl that pitted him and another black inmate against the four Latinos in his cellblock at the downtown jail, said Sheriff’s Deputy Alba Yates.
The death is being investigated as a homicide, she said.
The recent spate of violence began Feb. 4 with a melee involving more than 2,000 inmates at the North County Correctional Facility, part of the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic.
Wayne Tiznor, 45, a rapist in jail on a parole violation for failing to register as a sex offender, was slain in that riot, and dozens of others were injured.
The unrest has continued despite emergency lockdowns at all county jails and the hastily ordered racial segregation of inmates in some wards. Because of the charged nature of any decision to segregate by race, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has not separated black and Latino inmates throughout the system.
Violence continued Sunday at Pitchess Detention Center, the site of most of the fights among inmates. More than 90 inmates fought in the jail’s North Facility about 3:30 p.m., said Sheriff’s Deputy Luis Castro. Four inmates suffered minor injuries. Two were taken to a local hospital and the other two were treated at the scene.
As they did in previous incidents, sheriff’s deputies broke up the scuffles using tear gas and pellet weapons known as sting balls. No deputies were injured.
If ruled a homicide, Sunday’s death at the Men’s Central Jail would mark the eighth inmate slain in the outmoded facility in the last 2 1/2 years.
Investigators suspect the Feb. 4 riot was ordered by Mexican Mafia prison gang leaders, who they say encouraged Latino jail inmates to attack blacks. The melee was in retaliation for an attack on one of their associates that they said was committed by a black gang member in Los Angeles, officials have said.