LA cops face child abuse charges in SLO County



Three Los Angeles police officers will likely face charges in SLO County Superior Court in connection with allegations that they abused several children at a local boot camp.

The SLO County Sheriff’s Office served warrants on officers Marissa Elizabeth Larios, 36, and Patrick Marvin Nijland, 47, of the Huntington Park Police Department and Carlos Manuel Gomez-Marquez, 31, and Edgar Yovany Gomez, 35, of the South Gate Police Department on Aug. 5, according to a press release.

The warrants followed a two-month investigation into allegations of physical and mental abuse at the Leadership Empowerment and Discipline (LEAD) boot camp, a program run by the Huntington Park and South Gate police departments for children ages 11 through 17, and held at Camp San Luis Obispo between May 17 and 24. The investigation was sparked after the alleged abuse was reported to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services in late May. A Los Angeles-based attorney representing some of the victims and their parents said the abuse included officers slamming kids against walls, stepping on their hands while they did pushups, and placing some of them inside a dark room where they were beaten. 

None of the teenage victims, who voluntarily attended the camp for minor behavioral issues, were from San Luis Obispo County, but because the alleged abuse occurred in the county, the investigation landed squarely in the SLO County Sheriff’s lap. As part of the investigation, roughly half of the department’s investigators traveled to Los Angeles to interview 35 of the camp’s participants. They later identified 15 victims, including nine males and six females, all between the ages of 12 and 17. 

All four officers quickly posted $20,000 bail and are currently not in custody. The possible charges against them range from willful abuse of a child—a felony—to criminal battery and abuse under color of authority—both misdemeanors. In the end, it will be up to the SLO County District Attorney’s Office to decide whether or not to officially charge the four officers. As of Aug. 12, no charges were filed.

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