In a letter sent today, the ACLU of Southern California is calling on Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley to stop the criminal prosecution of a Los Angeles County jail inmate whom two sheriff’s deputies brutally attacked in the Twin Towers Correctional Facility on January 24, 2011.

Both the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department and the FBI are conducting separate criminal investigations into the attack on James Parker, but have not yet completed their findings. While conducting a routine inspection of the jail, ACLU/SC Jails Project Coordinator Esther Lim witnessed deputies kicking and tasering Parker repeatedly. She witnessed the two deputies shouting “Stop resisting!” and “Stop fighting!” while he lay limp on the floor.

The ACLU/SC requests that the criminal proceedings stop until the investigations are finished, because Parker’s prosecution will both interfere with those investigations and undermine the appearance of impartiality that the criminal justice system requires.

“Racing to hold his trial before the investigations are complete creates the impression that District Attorney’s office is more interested in convicting Mr. Parker than it is in ensuring a fair trial,” said Peter Eliasberg, legal director for the ACLU/SC. “Furthermore, the DA is undermining the legal system by rushing forward with this trial, while criminal investigations of the deputies’ actions are ongoin

“A prosecution of the inmate, James Parker, will require the District Attorney's office to urge that the officers' account of events be believed,” said Professor Daniel Richman a former Assistant United States Attorney who teaches at Columbia University Law School. “Going forward with the trial of Mr. Parker while a criminal investigation of the deputies is ongoing will also allow the inmate to cross-examine the officers on their powerful motive to protect their jobs and avoid prosecutions themselves. Under these circumstances, it’s hard to understand why the DA's office wants to pursue this case before it clarifies what happened during the entire encounter.”

Parker’s trial is scheduled for July 27, 2011.