Deputy Konrad Thieme, an alleged gang leader, also has a history of violence against women.
CONTENT WARNING: The following article includes video footage of physical violence against incarcerated people. It also includes graphic descriptions of violence against women. Please exercise extreme caution and self-care if you choose to view these images.
A group of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) deputies working in the county jail in Castaic are part of a white supremacist, Ku Klux Klan–themed gang that engages in misconduct and violence against incarcerated people, according to two former deputies’ videotape, obtained by Knock LA, of an alleged gang leader kneeling and lying on the neck of an inmate.
An alleged leader of the “IPA” gang, Deputy Konrad Thieme, was arrested last week for two counts of felony assault on an unarmed woman experiencing a mental health crisis and one count of lying about the incident.
The LASD has a history of violent, racist gangs formed by deputies, including approximately 19 gangs that are currently active within the department, the largest sheriff’s department in the country.
The name of the deputy gang has a double meaning: it references both the Inmate Processing Center, or IPA, where the deputies work at the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic, and an acronym for “Inclusive Province AKIA.” AKIA is Ku Klux Klan shorthand for “A Klansman I Am.” A report to the Illinois State Legislature on the workings of the Ku Klux Klan defines ‘province’ as “ territorial division of a realm,” – or a state. According to a KKK constitution published by the Nashville Union and Dispatch, there are a maximum of six provinces per territory. Interestingly enough, there are six LASD facilities in north Los Angeles County: the department stations in Lancaster, Palmdale, and Santa Clarita; the Pitchess Detention Center South Facility; the maximum security North Facility; and North County Correctional Facility.
Knock LA spoke with two former deputies who worked at the county jail in Castaic for a period of several months and observed IPA. They said they were both subjected to a dangerous work environment at the hands of IPA. According to the sources, membership in IPA is restricted to male deputies. Custody assistants are not allowed to join, but may associate with members and enjoy favorable treatment. Most members of IPA are white, but there are at least one Black and two Latino members. In order to join, a deputy must shave their head and be tasered by other IPA members. One deputy stated that he witnessed an IPA member taser a prospect while on duty at the Castaic jail. “They looked down on people, pretty much treated everybody like trash, whether you were a co-worker or not,” he says. “There are training officers that you couldn’t ask a question to … they wouldn’t help you. It’s like you kind of trust the inmates more than your partners.”
IPA members allegedly subject other personnel who do not adhere to the gang’s antagonistic, violent behavior to a dangerous work environment. Non-members are not given lunch or relief breaks from standing and are ignored when they radio for help, the two former deputies said. One former deputy says he was shunned by deputy gang members because they didn’t like the fact that he never cut his hair. “In all the time that I was in… I never took a break where I took my 30 minute lunch. Never once did I see anyone take lunch there that wasn’t part of the group.”
Incarcerated people are subject to brutal assaults by IPA deputy gang members, the two former deputies said. The incarcerated are often subjected to retaliation and punishment by the deputy gang, including denial of food and commissary privileges.
Angel Reinosa, a former deputy who was fired after he was accused of fabricating being shot in the shoulder, says he came into close contact with the gang during his six months working at the county jail in Castaic. Reinosa has identified deputies Thieme, Blake Runge, Gerardo Vivar Jr., Christopher Schaafsma, and Ormonde Jefferson as alleged members. Thieme, who was arrested this week for allegedly assaulting a woman during a service call and lying about it, is alleged to be a leader of IPA. Custody assistants Juan Carrillo Pedraza and Giuseppe Aguilera are said to be associates — they are unable to become full members because they are not deputies, according to the two former deputies.
Alleged IPA Gang Leader Deputy Konrad Thieme Causes Brawl at Castaic Jail
Knock LA has obtained jail surveillance video of Thieme brutally assaulting an incarcerated man in the Castaic jail and lying on his neck for several minutes on March 12, 2019, triggering a brawl that resulted in multiple injuries among other incarcerated men and deputies.
Just before 1 PM, a scuffle broke out between a few men incarcerated in Dorm 713 at the jail. Thieme, Deputy Tyler Scavo, and two other deputies — one man and one woman — responded and removed one of the men in handcuffs. At the time, Thieme was a senior deputy at the facility’s 800 block. His responsibilities included supervising other LASD personnel when fights broke out among incarcerated people. In the video, as the group walks past a row of bunks on the upper level, Scavo leading and Thieme bringing up the rear, Thieme pauses to speak with a group of incarcerated men. Meanwhile, downstairs, Aguilera chats with a man who appears to be a sergeant while Deputy Abraham Pineda stands in the doorway. As he stops, the two other deputies immediately turn around and approach the conversation. Thieme reaches in and begins punching one of the men standing between the bunk beds. The male deputy quickly joins in, and the two of them continue to beat the men for nearly one minute.
As the beating begins upstairs, Scavo and the man he is escorting reenter the dorm downstairs. Aguilera and the sergeant run up the stairs, and are followed by an incarcerated man. Scavo begins to run for the staircase after the runner, leaving the handcuffed man he was escorting behind. Pineda follows Scavo to the staircase, leaving the post at the door abandoned. Pineda also has the key with him, meaning that if the door was closed, the deputies inside would be unable to open it. As Scavo reaches the stairs, the runner turns and punches him in the face. Scavo drops, and incarcerated men surround him. Pineda reaches Scavo and is immediately placed in a chokehold. As he struggles, Scavo slides out from the pile and takes post at the door. Additional deputies begin to arrive and discharge their OC, or pepper spray. Two fall on the slick floor.
Upstairs, the female deputy moves behind the two men as the beating unfolds and reaches for her OC spray. Several incarcerated men, all unarmed, move toward the commotion. Aguilera runs into the upper level’s camera frame and punches one of the men in the face, while the woman begins discharging the OC spray. She sprays into the dorm, then several times directly into the faces of the men who are being beaten by Thieme and the other deputy. As this goes on, the sergeant approaches the deputies pummeling the men and reaches in to extract them. After a few attempts, the sergeant is able to pull one man out. The sergeant and another deputy who has just arrived pull the man to the floor, place his arms on his back and handcuff him. Thieme, who according to arrest records is 6’3” and 230 lbs., begins to lay his body on the neck of one of the other men he has beaten. He continues to lie on the man’s neck as several alleged IPA gang members, including Jefferson, Runge, and Pedraza, arrive at the scene and begin to pace around aimlessly. One deputy appears to threaten several men who are already lying prone on the floor with OC spray. After nearly four minutes, the watch commander, a high ranking officer, arrives in the dorm. Thieme gets up, and the man he has been crushing is hoisted up and out of the dorm.
Over 50 LASD personnel, including two armed with non-lethal guns and two in riot gear, responded to the incident. Reinosa says the call for help was not a radio call at all, but a blood-curdling scream. “It was like she was getting murdered. And then she said, like, ‘713!,’” he says. “That’s when everyone obviously came.” He believes her fear triggered the large response from personnel who staffed all areas of the jail. According to sources, the only deputy disciplined was the woman deputy, for excessive use of OC spray. Runge appears to be on patrol in the Antelope Valley. Jefferson appears to be on patrol in Santa Clarita.
After provoking a fracas at the jail in Castaic, it appears that the department assigned Thieme to patrol at the Lost Hills Station in Calabasas. LASD knew full well that Thieme had a history of violence both on and off duty — in August 2017, he was arrested in Sonoma County for domestic violence, according to police records. It is unclear if this incident led to any internal investigations at LASD; the department did not respond to a public records request.
LA County Settled a Case Involving Alleged IPA Leader Deputy Konrad Thieme
On November 20, 2017, Thieme brutally assaulted 61-year-old Xenethon Sanders after stopping his vehicle for unknown reasons while Sanders was driving down Topanga Canyon Boulevard, according to a civil right lawsuit. Sanders had just gotten into a scuffle with a roommate of his friend, and believed the man had called the police on him in retaliation. According to the lawsuit, Thieme forced Sanders to stop his car by shining a spotlight in Sanders’ eyes and commanding him to exit his van over a loudspeaker.
When Sanders attempted to lie in the street as instructed, Thieme tackled him, knocking his head to the pavement, the lawsuit said. Thieme pinned Sanders’ back to the street with his knee and smashed his head into the pavement. Despite EMTs being on scene and stating medical care was needed, Thieme did not allow them to work on Sanders and placed him in the back of a patrol car. Instead, the deputies searched Sanders’ vehicle and arrested him for “resisting arrest.” Sanders was taken to an emergency room for treatment, and then to a jail facility where he was interrogated without an attorney present, according to his lawsuit. He was eventually released at 4 AM the following morning.
Thieme lied about the nature of the arrest on a report the following day, according to Sanders’ lawsuit. Thieme’s report states that Sanders had been detained at gunpoint for an assault with a deadly weapon, and that Sanders had become uncooperative upon exiting his van. Thieme wrote that Sanders tried to pull out of his grip and fell on the street, with Thieme landing on top of him. Deputies Doud, Miner, and Hollinger each backed up Thieme’s account in their own reports of the incident. Sergeant Brandon Patin and Supervisor and Watch Commander Lieutenant Gregory Minster approved the Use of Force report for LASD. Criminal charges were filed against Sanders for resisting arrest, but were later dropped by the district attorney’s office.
Sanders’ lawyer, Behrouz Shafie, tells Knock LA that the case was settled six months ago, but his client has still not been paid. “They are saying that the county has to approve it. It’s been over six months,” he says. “I’m just gonna withdraw everything and go back to trial.”
Deputy Konrad Thieme Has History of Violence Against Women
This week, Deputy Konrad Thieme was arrested for two counts of felony assault on an unarmed woman and one count of falsifying a police report. The charges stem from an incident on April 10, 2021, where Thieme brutally assaulted an unarmed, compliant woman in the midst of her mental health crisis, according to the district attorney’s office.
That day, 32-year-old Sarah Jafari was banging a door against a wall in her mother’s home in Chatsworth. Jafari’s mother called for help, and Thieme and other deputies arrived at the scene.
According to the complaint, when Thieme and the others arrived, they approached Jafari as she backed away with her hands outstretched. Thieme suddenly punched her in the throat, prompting Jafari to fall backwards onto her head. Deputies then began to tase her as she lay on the ground and cried out in pain. Thieme then picked Jafari up by her hair and threw her into the back of his patrol car. She was taken to a hospital for emergency treatment for her injuries. The deputies, meanwhile, wrote a police report that falsely stated Jafari had resisted arrest. They also returned to Jafari’s mother’s home in an attempt to get her to lie and state that her daughter had a knife. Jafari was later placed in jail. However, the charges were later dropped.
Jafari was left with a traumatic brain injury that causes seizures as well as extreme trauma. She also lost over 30 pounds in two months, and is too afraid to return to her mother’s home. Vincent Miller, an attorney for Jafari, said that his client was unhoused as a result of that fear. “If Villanueva didn’t follow up with that and didn’t properly discipline him, then he’s responsible for this deputy still being out there,” he tells Knock LA. “Villanueva’s just not holding deputies accountable for their conduct. And then if you don’t hold people accountable, they’re prone to do it again.”
Lieutenant Jim Braden, who supervised Thieme at the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, told the Los Angeles Times that Thieme was relieved of duty that day. According to The Current Report, run by Cece Woods, Captain Chuck Becerra immediately alerted the executive staff at LASD to assault. Thieme was investigated by the Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau and referred to the district attorney’s office for criminal prosecution in July 2021. Thieme remains suspended on administrative leave with pay.
According to the Current Report, Thieme was also one of two responding deputies to the sexual assault of a Pepperdine student on February 8, 2020. Cece Woods also reported for the Local Malibu that Thieme and another deputy responded to the scene and victim-shamed the woman, saying, “I smell pot, are you sure you are not imagining it?” The deputies also told the victim that because “she was not penetrated,” they could not take action, and dismissed the assault as “trespassing.” Deputies also failed to gather security footage of the incident, according to the Current Report.
Woods posted screenshots of a text message conversation she and her friend, Dr. Ronda Hampton, had with Sheriff Villanueva regarding the deputies’ mishandling of the 2020 Pepperdine sexual assault incident. In the messages, Hampton criticizes Villanueva for not disclosing that a man was wanted for sexual assault on a flyer intended to alert the community. Instead, the flyer says that the man simply “entered the unlocked apartment and awoke a resident.” Villanueva writes, “Sex crime info left off on purpose for privacy.” California state law does not require the disclosure of victim’s identities to alert residents of crimes. Hampton asks, “Then how do you warn the women,” to which he responds, “Burglary occupied residence.” Hampton accuses Villanueva of “lying by omission” and “minimizing” the incident. Woods tells Villanueva, “This is bullshit,” and to not “make yourself look bad and ME for supporting you!”
In response to a request for comment on Thieme’s history, the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said: “This is another example of Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s commitment to transparency and accountability. This case was fully investigated by our own Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau (ICIB) and presented to the Office of the District Attorney — Justice System Integrity Division for prosecution. The incident was captured on body-worn camera and the deputy was relieved of duty soon after the incident. We remain committed to holding our personnel accountable as we provide for the safety and security of our communities.” On the contrary, Thieme does not appear to have been disciplined for any of his assaults prior to the 2021 incident.
Investigations into deputy gangs in LASD remain ongoing. Earlier this year, the Civilian Oversight Commission announced a full-scale investigation into the deputy gangs inside the department, referring to Knock LA’s 15-part series as part of the history of documentation of the issue. But it’s unclear if the investigation will make any meaningful change; exactly one decade ago, the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence attempted to root out these very issues among jail deputies. Sheriff Villanueva’s strategy appears to be covering up deputy malfeasance by any means necessary. Thieme, meanwhile, awaits arraignment with the security of a paycheck, funded by taxpayers.