4 Probation Officers Found Not Guilty After Allegedly Pepper Spraying Teenage Girls in Downey Juvie

Four probation officers were found not guilty on charges that they unlawfully used pepper spray against teenage girls in a Downey juvenile hall, officials announced Wednesday.

After deliberating for less than a day, a jury acquitted Los Angeles County detention services officers LaCour Harrison, 54, Claudette Reynolds, 58, Maria Asuzena Guerrero, 29, and Karnesha Marshall, 28, of misdemeanor cruelty to a child by endangering her health, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Harrison and Reynolds were also found not guilty on Tuesday of one felony count each of assault by a public officer, officials said.

The four officers stationed at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall were accused of using excessive force when using pepper spray and of acting unreasonably by delaying the victims from being decontaminated after being sprayed, the DA’s office said. The alleged incident took place in 2018.

In Feb. 2019, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved a “phased elimination” of pepper spray at juvenile detention facilities by the end of the year, after many states already ban it in juvenile facilities.

Two other officers from the same juvenile hall are facing similar charges in connection with a separate incident, according to the DA’s office.

Marlene Rochelle Wilson, 47, was charged with five felony counts of assault by a public officer and three misdemeanor counts of child abuse, officials said.

Janeth Vilchez, 49, was charged with one count each of assault by a public officer and child abuse, officials said.

Wilson and Vilchez are both scheduled for a preliminary hearing on March 25.

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