Sheriff Villanueva Rehired an Officer Accused of Domestic Violence. A Judge Says Not So Fast

The top cop’s most controversial reinstatement was overturned

When Alex Villanueva was elected sheriff of L.A. County last year, one of his first orders of business was creating a “truth and reconciliation” process to reinstate officers that had been fired by his predecessor for everything from unreasonable use of force to domestic violence. It was a controversial move, particularly for a Democrat who’d campaigned on reform, transparency, and public integrity.

On Monday, an L.A. Superior Court judge overturned Villanueva’s first and most questionable reinstatement, Deputy Caren Carl Mandoyan, who was fired in 2016 when an internal investigation determined he had stalked and physically abused his ex-girlfriend (a fellow sheriff’s deputy). In video footage leaked to the public last year, Mandoyan can be seen allegedly attempting to enter his ex’s apartment through the bathroom window by removing the sliding window from the track.

In a 14-page preliminary injunction, Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff wrote, “The sheriff’s decision to overturn Mandoyan’s discharge substantially erodes public trust and confidence in the county’s law enforcement agency. It also undermines the county’s employment and discipline systems and creates confusion with employees and the public.”

The ruling was a victory for the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, which filed suit against Villanueva over the Mandoyan reinstatement in March. Just last week, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party—which supported Villanueva during the election—voted to issue a formal statement disapproving of “numerous complaints of abuse of [Villanueva’s] office” it says have “eroded the trust of the public.”

Mandoyan became a visible member of Villanueva’s entourage during the election, serving as the candidate’s driver. As Los Angeles reported in July, Villanueva dismissed the entire situation as “a private relationship between two consenting adults that went bad.”

In a statement posted to Twitter yesterday, Villanueva said he was disappointed in the judge’s decision, but that he “immediately implemented the court’s will.” According to the L.A. Times, Mandoyan’s attorney referred to the injunction as “just a temporary thing.”

RELATED: Meet Sheriff Alex Villanueva, the Donald Trump of L.A. Law Enforcement

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