Mimesis Law
6 July 2022

Time For Brunsting & Branum To Learn How Prison Works

May 19, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — A federal jury deliberated just 90 minutes before teaching two deputies a lesson. Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies Bryan Brunsting and Jason Branum used to teach their own lessons: how to punish disrespect and how to beat an inmate. This time, a jury taught them about justice. Brunsting and Branum were convicted of conspiracy, depriving an inmate of his civil rights, and falsifying records. They got schooled.

Brunsting and Branum beat an inmate who mouthed off in an effort to teach him a lesson. It is standard operating procedure for most jail facilities, especially larger local facilities. Inmates are not people. They are a necessary inconvenience. Prisoners should do as they are told and feign respect and admiration for those in charge. Anything less simply will not be tolerated. Anything less deserves punishment. They called upon Josh Sather, a promising rookie, to show him the ropes and teach him how to handle business.

“We’re going to teach him a lesson,” Sather recalled his training officer [Brunsting] telling him.

Testifying in the federal criminal trial of the training officer and another deputy, Sather told jurors how he and other deputies led the inmate into a hallway. Sather recounted tackling the man and punching him several times but then relenting because the inmate wasn’t resisting. Other deputies then set upon the inmate with a barrage of kicks and blows that culminated in them spreading the inmate’s legs and the training officer kicking him in the genitals, Sather said.

The inmate, Sather said, lay curled up on the ground throughout the assault, screaming and crying.

When they were done, he said, the deputies gathered privately to concoct a justification for the beating that they gave sheriff’s officials in falsified reports.

Sather, being on the job less than a week, didn’t know the drill. He didn’t know much about writing reports. He needed help. Luckily, Brunsting was there to walk him through his continuing education. Sather, his training officer, and other deputies met to discuss the ramifications of the legitimate use of force get their stories straight. When it was clear Sather didn’t understand how to write a bullshit thorough report, Brunsting provided a copy of his and told Sather to copy it. After all, it’s expected the reports should match when they mirror the truth.

In the meeting and reports,

Jones [the inmate], it was decided, would be portrayed as the aggressor, who ignored orders to return to his cell and instead walked into the hallway. When Sather followed, the story would go, Jones turned, took a swing at the deputy and violently resisted being taken into custody, Sather testified.

It was also decided that one of the other deputies involved would not be mentioned in the reports because his record already included several uses of force on inmates and he could not afford another, Sather said.

Keep in mind, it’s always best to leave deputies out when their own career might be on the line. After all, he had already reported other instances of use of force against inmates. With everything on the up-and-up, administrators already knew he was one to use legitimate force. It had been well documented. Adding another would just be bragging.

Sather, at his uncle’s urging, ultimately reported the incident and became the government’s star witness: the insider who didn’t want to be a snitch but knew he and others had done something really bad. Over the course of the investigation and ultimate trial, Sather forgot his training and provided statements and testimony. Of course, that gave defense attorneys some ammunition. They told jurors Sather was confronted with the ugly reality of sometimes needing to use force on belligerent inmates, “he couldn’t handle it.”

Well, in this case, they were correct. He couldn’t handle it. That night he broke down and called his uncle to tell him what he and other deputies had done. He resigned from the department. He wanted to help people, not hurt undeserving inmates. They were right: Sather is not cut out to be a deputy serving in the jail. That requires much more determination and resolve to punish those who disrespect.

Brunsting, 31, and Branum, 35, who both remain with the sheriff’s department but have been relieved of duty, are scheduled to be sentenced in August. They face a maximum of 40 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Those who once doled out punishments now await theirs. What is left unanswered is whether Brunsting and Branum will feign respect and admiration for their captors when it’s their time inside.

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  • Wrongway
    19 May 2016 at 11:44 pm - Reply


    • JoAnne Musick
      19 May 2016 at 11:54 pm - Reply

      Wow indeed! It’s so rare that (1) a deputy would testify against others and (2) a jury convicts.