LOS ANGELES (CN) - An inmate claims in court that Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies shot him and others with a military-style heat ray that causes burns and disfigurement.
Andrew Lars Fuchs suffers from "schizophrenia and/or manic bipolar disorder," according to his federal lawsuit.
He sued the L.A. County, its Sheriff's Department, Sheriff Leroy Baca, 10 other officers and Raytheon, which allegedly made the heat ray.
The lawsuit states: "On August 20, 2010, Sheriff Baca announced that LASD would begin using what he characterized as an assault intervention device, developed by Raytheon in the Los Angeles County Jail System ('heat beam device').
"Raytheon has admitted in marketing materials published in 2006 that the aforementioned device 'is designed, developed and manufactured by Raytheon Company. Raytheon is the only company producing this millimeter wave capability.'
"The United States government did not approve the specifications of the heat beam device marketed and sold to LASD, which was designed by Raytheon only.
"The device fires an invisible electro-magnetic radiation heat beam, causing unbearable pain to inmates. The heat beam device fires a high-powered beam of extremely high frequency waves at a target. The wave energy works on a similar principle as a microwave oven, exciting the water and fat molecules in the skin, and instantly heating them via dielectric heating.
"The heat beam device has caused second- and third-degree radiation bums on the body's surface, and upon the re-triggering of the heat beam device against the same target it will produce permanent injury or death.
"Over-exposure by both operators and targets exposes them to potential long-term damage, including cancer.
"The heat beam device will irradiate all matter in the targeted area with no possible discrimination between individuals, objects or materials. Anyone incapable of leaving the target area (e.g., a prisoner confined to a cell) would continue to receive radiation until the operator turned off the beam.
"The heat beam device unnecessarily inflicts severe pain on inmates, subjecting them to an excessive force tantamount to torture, in clear violation of the Eighth Amendment and Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
"At all times mentioned in this complaint the device was entrusted to LASD and/or
LAC employees by Raytheon, despite the history of officer violence, retaliation, and abuse against pretrial detainees and sentenced prisoners alike, as documented in the Commission's Report."
The Commission Report refers to a September 2012 County of Los Angeles Report of the Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence.
According to the lawsuit: "Statements and testimony from inmates, current and former LASD personnel, jail chaplains and monitors, as well as the LASD's own records, demonstrate that there has been a persistent pattern of unnecessary and excessive use of force in the Los Angeles County jails as stated in the September 2012 County of Los Angeles Report of the Citizens' Commission ('Commission') on Jail Violence ('Commission's Report'). In October 2011, the Office of Independent Review stated in its report on violence in the Los Angeles County Jails that, 'it cannot be denied that deputies sometimes use unnecessary force against inmates in the jails, either to exact punishment or to retaliate against something the inmate is perceived to have done.'"
The heat beam is "a stripped-down version of a military gadget that sends highly focused beams of energy at people and makes them feel as though they are burning," the Huffington Post reported 3 years ago, as Sheriff Baca allegedly prepared to introduce the machine into his jails.
An officer picked up Fuchs, then a 23-year-old software engineer, for walking naked through the streets of West Hollywood in the early hours of Aug. 17, 2012, according to the lawsuit.
Deputies shot Fuchs with the heat ray after repeatedly punching him in the head and face, pepper spraying him, kicking him in the groin and threatening him with a Taser, he says in the complaint.
During his three days in jail, Fuchs says, he was not given clothing and never posed a threat. He claims that when he tried to drink from a sink in his cell, officers shot him with the heat ray.
"The hair on plaintiff's extremities was burned off, and eventually the remaining portions of the hair follicles were pushed below the skin surface, creating an optimal environment for infection to spread into plaintiff's bloodstream," the complaint states.
Fuchs claims he suffered second-degree burns and "permanent disfiguring scars on his body." His burns were so severe he got a "life-threatening super-infection which overtook his body, and sepsis of his blood," according to the complaint.
"Plaintiff required dialysis treatment in order to prevent death, all of which resulted in great mental, physical, and nervous pain and suffering including post-traumatic stress disorder," the lawsuit states.
It cites the Citizens' Commission On Jail Violence to claim that Fuchs' experience was not an anomaly: "The commission's report indicates that in 2011 alone, there were 418 significant use of force incidents (defined as injury to inmate, inmate complaint of pain, allegation or indication of jail personnel misconduct, or use of force greater than approved restraint procedures), and in nearly three out of five of these incidents LASD personnel used force against an inmate who did not exhibit aggression and may have done nothing more than passively disobey an instruction." Fuchs seeks damages for 19 causes of action, including cruel and unusual punishment, assault and battery, excessive force, negligence, fraud and deceit, failure to summon medical aid, unlawful policies, suppression of fact and civil rights violations.
He is represented by Justin Romig.