Tony Saavedra and Norberto Santana, Jr. at the Orange County Register had an interesting article today about how Orange County Sheriff's Deputies routinely use Tasers on handcuffed jail inmates.
“Two videotapes obtained from lawyers suing the county for excessive force show deputies wrenching the arms of inmates and using Tasers on defendants already on their bellies or strapped to a chair,” the story noted. The names of the inmates are Mathew Fleuret and Liza Muñoz, both of whom were arrested on relatively minor charges—Fleuret for being in a bar fight and Munoz for getting pulled over with Vicodin in her friend's purse—and are now suing the Sheriff's Department for violating their civil rights.
This hard-hitting Register story is exactly the type of muckracking journalism Register readers need and deserve. So just how did our dynamic duo of diggers get their big scoop? Here's my theory: Saavedra read the Jan. 23 LA Times story about Fleuret by Paul Pringle that ran on the front page of the California section, which actually broke the story of the incident and provided just the kind of gritty details from the video that must have made Saavedra curious enough to call Fleuret's lawyers and ask for the same tape.
Meanwhile, Santana, Jr. must have scratched his head and said something along the lines of, “Hmm, this sounds familiar, didn't I read about a similar incident involving a woman named Liza Muñoz, like a year ago in OC Weekly? Why don't I Google her name? Why, yes, here's that story. Why don't I call Muñoz' attorney and ask for the videotape? And let's not forget to not mention the Weekly story, since it came out last year, and call the video 'new.' Yay, that was fun—and easy!”
Nice work, fellas. While the Register ripping off OC Weekly is nothing new—I'm thinking of their coverage of ex-Huntington Beach Mayor Pam Houchen's illegal condo conversion scam, which was first reported by us and led to her indictment on bank and wire fraud charges and two-year prison sentence—at least the Register actually added to that story. Today's article contains absolutely no new information about either the Fleuret or Muñoz beating cases, but it still deserves credit as a work of art.
What with all that cutting and pasting, let's call it a collage.