A federal judge has concluded that Los Angeles city officials doctored evidence to help the city defend itself against allegations regarding homeless people. The allegations claimed that the city illegally seized and destroyed the property of homeless people that lived within these camp areas. 

Judge Dale Fischer Claims City Failed To Produce Legitimately Requested Documents

U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer warned that Los Angeles will likely have to face sanctions after a forensic examination. Fischer explained more about the situation in an order.

Source: Flickr/Friends of LA Law Library

Fischer claimed that the city “altered, modified, and created documents relevant to Plaintiff’s claims.” According to Fischer, the city also failed to provide documents that were legitimately requested.

Judge Fischer: ‘The City’s Credibility Has Been Damaged Significantly’

Fischer wrote “suffice it to say that the City’s credibility has been damaged significantly.” Based on court filings, records that documented what took place during cleanups and the authorization for the seizures were either created or altered two years after the incident occurred.

Source: Pixabay

There were even certain cases in which the documents were created or altered within days of being turned over to the plaintiffs in question.

Words, Phrases In Certain Records Were Replaced To Alter Documents

There were reportedly some records in which certain words or phrases were replaced. The replacements were more than basic edits; they presented major changes to the overall tone of the narrative.

Source: Pixabay/Anne Karakash

For instance, the phrase “bulky items” in certain records was noticeably replaced with “health hazards” or even “contaminated.” The changes were reportedly made after Fischer ruled that the city’s law prohibiting seizures of “bulky items” was unconstitutional.

Attorney Claims Significant Changes ‘Rise To The Level Of Fraud On The Court’

Attorney Shayla R. Myers of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles indicated that the changes are not minor or insignificant. On the contrary, she indicated that the changes are so significant that “they rise to the level of fraud on the court.”

Source: Facebook/Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SPIA)

Myers has worked with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles since 2014. She started as a Staff Attorney in 2014 and was promoted to Senior Attorney in 2019.

Attorney Shayla Myers Claims Case Is ‘About Misleading The Court And The Public’

Myers, who is currently representing the eight plaintiffs, opened up about the case in a recent interview. She stated that the case is not “just about altering or creating evidence.”

Source: Pixabay/Sang Hyun Cho

According to Myers, the case is about “misleading the court and the public about the existence of safeguards.” Myers added that the safeguards were in place “to ensure the city isn’t illegally throwing away unhouse people’s belongings.”

Myers References Processes ‘Ensure They Aren’t Violating Unhoused People’s Rights’

Myers also explained that the city has “processes in place to ensure they aren’t violating unhoused people’s rights.” Myers added that “those are the very documents that the court found to be altered or fabricated.”

Source: Pixabay/Leroy Skalstad

A spokesman that represents the Los Angeles city attorney declined to offer any comments on the topic, according to multiple reports. The spokesperson did confirm that the office reportedly did not comment on any type of pending litigation.

Plaintiffs Allege City Violated Rights By Destroying Belongings In Camp

The plaintiffs of the chase allege that the city violated their rights by destroying their camp belongings in 2018 as well as 2019. There were quite a few items taken in addition to personal identification.

Multiple records confirm that other items allegedly taken were hygiene goods, a chest of clothes, a laptop computer, work supplies, dog kennel, medications, tents, and chairs. The plaintiffs include the group Ktown for All and seven homeless people.

Lawsuit Alleges That The City Violated Fourth Amendment Of US Constitution

The lawsuit, which is more than five years old, alleges that the city of Los Angeles violated the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution when it seized and disposed of the property found within the homeless camps. The protection of that amendment focuses on illegal searches and seizures.

Source: Wikimedia/Los Angeles

The lawsuit also states that the city violated the guaranteed provision of due process outlined in the 14th Amendment.

Lead Plaintiff Worked As Domestic, Work Supplies Seized When She Was Absent

Lead plaintiff Janet Garcia reportedly worked as a domestic cleaner. However, the lawsuit alleges that Garcia’s property related to her work was seized and destroyed.

Source: Pixabay

According to the report, Garcia was not even present when her property was initially seized.

Other Plaintiffs Claim They Were Not Given Any Time To Gather Personal Items

The lawsuit also alleges that the other plaintiffs were not provided with any time to collect their personal items before the seizure occurred. The property seized and destroyed was described within the content of the lawsuit itself.

Source: Pixabay/Jan Vasek

Myers indicated that she has not yet determined which sanctions to propose. She reportedly will do so after the completion of the forensic examination within the next two months.

Homeless People Advocacy Group Expended Resources To Replenish Seized Items

Another allegation referenced within the lawsuit was that the advocacy group that assists homeless people named Ktown for All was also impacted by the city’s actions. According to the court filing, Ktown for All was allegedly harmed regarding the expenditure of its resources.

Source: Facebook/Ktown for All

The group allegedly expended resources to assist the homeless people impacted by the illegal search and seizure. According to the report, the group used its own resources to replenish the items that were seized within the homeless camp community.

Plaintiffs Seek Compensation, Declaration From The City Regarding Seizure

The plaintiffs are reportedly seeking compensation to cover the value of the property that was seized from them and subsequently destroyed. They also want to be compensated for their pain and suffering.

Source: Pixabay/Ralph

In addition to the monetary side of their demands, the plaintiffs also want the city to make a declaration related to the case. The declaration would state that the policies and practices of the city violated the California and United States Constitutions.

Fischer Issued Preliminary Injunction To Bar City From Municipal Code Enforcement

Fischer reported issued a preliminary injunction that would bar the city from enforcing the municipal code designed to prohibit bulky items. As a result of the ruling, the plaintiffs would have basically won their case regarding the property taken due to the “bulky item law.”

Source: Pixabay/CQF-Avocat

However, they would have had to retain a defense for the items that were taken under a health standard, according to Myers. Fischer held Los Angeles in contempt after the plaintiff’s lawyer introduced new evidence into the case that city employees did not stop posting signs that prohibited bulky items in certain locations.

Myers Team Found Over 100 Revisions In Certain Documents

Myers’ team reportedly found over 100 revisions within the documents in question. One report shows that the examiner’s preliminary report indicated that he was not able to obtain all of the original documents.

Source: Pixabay/Aymane Jdidi

When manually compared with the original documents, Myers’ team identified over 100 revisions. For instance, “ADA violation” was used to replace “bulky.” The phrase “Contaminated Items Surrendered or Left Behind by Resident” was used to replace “Property left behind by encampment.”