Seven Los Angeles County Sheriff deputies remain under suspicion and increased investigation as a city probe widens into allegations that they all were a part of a clandestine clique of officers that celebrated shootings and branded one another with matching, gun-smoking skeleton tattoos for which each could earn additional ink for based on the rising number of shootings they were personally apart of.
Known as “The Jump Out Boys,” the secret society of LAPD’s so-called finest only came to light after a department supervisor tripped upon group literature while rifling through the squad car of one of his underlings. New recruits were accepted into the group based on the endorsements of other full-fledged members who deemed them worthy of the posse’s sinister ways.
To date, all of the disciplined officers are part of the city’s elite Gang Enforcement Team, a unit long divided into two decorated platoons of officers who worked under very little supervision and were essentially free to roam in targeted minority neighborhoods more or less unabated.
A more comprehensive description of the tattoos each of the members bore highlight them as having an oversized skull bearing a wide, toothy grimace and glowing red eyes. A bandanna is wrapped around the skull and a bony hand can be seen clasping a revolver, from which remnants of gun smoke hovered over the barrel. To the left of the skull are two playing cards— an ace and an eight— an apparent reference of what’s known as the “dead man’s hand” in a chance game of poker.
Authorities add that the group’s “Jump Out Boys” moniker stems from the method in which oft victimized Compton-area residents perceived cops actions and directly refer to the swift nature in which officers preyed upon their often unsuspecting subjects.
Immensely troubled by his charges apparent administering outside the lines, including the act of embracing shootings as a badge of honor as opposed to honoring the ode sworn to by all officers to only resort to such actions as a last option, the unidentified supervisor confronted the officer in who’s vehicle he discovered the pamphlet and only after intense and unrelenting grilling did he admit to his own transgressions as well as began to finger at least some of his alleged accomplices.
Though this hardly marks the first outbreak of such outrageousness on the part of L.A. law enforcement, investigator’s from the city’s internal affairs division insist they have yet to find any concrete instances which prove the impugned officers engaged in any improper shootings or other forms of serious misconduct.
Just last year, the department was forced to fire half-dozen officers stationed at the Men’s Central Jail after they fought with other officers during a Christmas day party and a female deputy ended up punched in the face and bloodied. Investigators later admitted the six officers involved in the brawl that were eventually fired were all part of an aggressive clique of officers known as “3000” deputies. The gang was alleged to have used gang-like-three-finger hand signals to communicate among themselves and likewise earned kudos and more ink for their tattoos by beating down and assaulting defenseless inmates.
Even the egregious act of celebrating shootings and sporting matching tattoos rank as nothing new within the long suspect confines of the LAPD. Anti-gang members from the department’s notorious Rampart Division reveled in such dubious distinction back in the late 1990 when they made covering up bad shootings, planting evidence, falsifying police reports and perjuring themselves their calling card all in the name of eroding what they deemed a plaque of gang and drug related crime.
Authorities were only able to trip up that gang after a disgraced officer stepped forward to reveal his darkly held secrets. As far as those involved in the department’s latest scandal, sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore insisted “we took the appropriate action and we will continue to take appropriate action. It’s still early in the investigation.”
As Whitmore spoke on behalf of Sheriff Lee Baca, John Jay College of Criminal Justice Professor Marcia Haberfield and others of her ilk intensely looked on and listened in.
“Even though they are authorized to use deadly force, I don’t think it’s a cause for celebration,” she told the L.A. Times. “When you reach a point in your career that you have no choice but to use deadly force, if anything it’s incredibly traumatic for the shooter. It’s a little bizarre to commemorate a tragic event.”
All of the deputies placed on leave are still receiving pay as the internal affairs department continues its probe.