Civil rights lawsuit filed after incident at Camp Kilpatrick

Camp Kilpatrick. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT

Supervisor says, ‘We will not tolerate child abuse.’

Camp Kilpatrick is once again under scrutiny now that criminal charges have been filed against a deputy probation officer at the detention facility. Fifty-nine-year-old Oscar Cross, a Los Angeles County probation officer, is accused of using excessive force during an altercation with a 17-year-old inmate.  

The incident occurred three years ago, but the former inmate is now an adult and has filed a separate federal civil rights lawsuit alleging excessive force while incarcerated at Camp Kilpatrick, located in the Malibu hills.

Surveillance video of the October 2020 incident at the juvenile facility was leaked months ago. Footage shows as many as five unnamed adult probation officers trying to subdue Beckam Cardona. Cardona and his attorneys call the altercation “an attack.” In the video, the probation officers are piled on top of Cardona, who can be heard screaming in pain and calling out for his mother. The video also appears to show the supervising officer Cross bending the boy’s legs backward after the boy is wrestled down. 

Cardona earlier said the altercation happened after he threw a milk carton at officers. He claimed he was hungry at the time and frustrated due to lack of food and drink.

Cardona’s attorneys held a news conference this week to announce, “We demand justice. We seek justice. Beckam is here today to tell the community to tell the county that they have to answer for this conduct. They failed to report child abuse. They could be prosecuted for failure to report child abuse. They have to answer for the coverup.” 

Cardona’s lawsuit names the county and the county’s probation department. It accuses the probation officers of abuse by disrupting the flow of his oxygen by placing excessive weight on the teen’s throat and chest. 

“They have to answer for this conduct; for the coverup. Where are they now?” Cardona’s attorneys questioned. The young man’s lawyers say he was not a threat and showed no signs of fighting back, kicking, or resisting on the surveillance tape. Cardona claims he is still traumatized and suffers from back pain since being restrained.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon has also filed an excessive force charge against Officer Cross for assaulting a minor. Gascon called the incident a “brutal assault on a child by a person entrusted with his care while he was in custody of the probation department” that went unreported for some time. “Final good justice would be that they locked up more of these people who witnessed it, but didn’t report it. Police officers are mandated to stop another officer from committing abuse.” Oddly, the day before the violent incident, Cross had completed required training on child abuse prevention and reporting.

“Heads need to roll within the county probation department office. They need to roll fast,” Cardona’s attorneys stated.

The LA County Probation Office has not even confirmed if Cross is still employed. The office claims it cannot comment on pending litigation or on personnel issues.

No other probation officers have been charged for taking part or for not reporting the assault.

Cardona claims he kept quiet while incarcerated because he feared repercussions while housed at Camp Kilpatrick and that he was threated he would be transferred to a jail for adults.

LA County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath did not mince words at a news conference, saying, “We are saying to the families of our justice-involved youth that we will not tolerate harm and we will not tolerate child abuse, not today, not tomorrow, not ever.”

Horvath said she planned to introduce a motion to the board that would force changes in the troubled county probation system.

If convicted of the felony count of excessive force, Cross faces three years in prison.