On May 9th 2013 Pamela Devitt was attacked and killed by a pack of six Pit Bulls and two mixed breed dogs while jogging in Littlerock, a small town in Los Angeles County. Ms. Devitt’s death was tragic and the dog’s owner, Alex Donald Jackson is facing murder charges… but from newly secured official documents, it seems that Mr. Jackson was not the only one whose misconduct rose to criminality. A good deal of the blame for Ms. Devitt’s death, and we believe a good deal of the legal liability, rests squarely on the shoulders of Marcia Mayeda, the head of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Control and her chief deputy, Derek Brown who have either directly ordered their Lancaster staff to engage in a massive cover-up, or watched in tacit silence while they engaged in a cover-up, in an attempt to shield themselves from a potential multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuit from Ms. Devitt’s estate.
On January 17th, 2013 the DACC received a complaint that Epifanio Maldonado was attacked by Pit Bulls, in the same area where Pamela Devitt was killed, while riding his horse with a friend. The call was assigned activity number A13-004228, and the then-acting head of the Lancaster shelter, Raoul Rodriguez, ordered his officers to handle the call that day. A Lancaster officer, badge number 251, went to the address where the pit bulls were alleged to live to investigate the complaint. According to his notes he observed that “the owner was out there with at lease (sic) 8 pits in the front yard.” On January 18th, a different Lancaster officer, Badge number 144, visited the property and entered a note saying he observed “3 large pit bulls on the property.”
The record shows no further attempt to investigate the license status or the ownership of the Pit Bulls until April 12th, when the next note was entered by the DACC’s Call Center. The entry says that Alex Jackson called in response to a notice he had received and stated that he did not own any animals and that the dogs seen on his property were local strays.”
The DACC uses a database system called “Chameleon” to track its information. All entries into this database are automatically time stamped. Policies and Procedures at the DACC require that all investigation notes be entered promptly, and failure to complete investigations can, and often does, result in employee suspensions.
The next notes sequentially are dated on May 10th – the day after Mrs. Devitt was mauled to death by the dogs. In the notes entered by Officer Rachel Montez-Kemp, the Officer recounts arriving at the scene of the tragedy and discovering Ms. Devitt was dead. She spoke with Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy Brandenburg and received a description of the attacking dogs. Quoting Officer Montez-Kemp’s note (Memo No M13-063626) “I went to the location of 37397 115th East to see if these dogs matched the description of the dog (sic) that attacked because we had several complaints of these particular dogs getting off the property and attacking, charging horses and riders, and other people. We went to the location and did not see any dogs at the property, which was odd because every time the officers went or I went the dogs were running in the front yard.”
Officer Montez-Kemp’s notes make it clear that the DACC knew about these dangerous dogs in advance of the attack. Realizing how potentially culpable the DACC’s lack of action was, the DACC went into cover up mode. On May 21st, Officer Montez-Kemp entered additional, backdated notes. On May 21st, (Memo No M13-068923) Officer Montez- Kemp says she arrived on April 3rd and did not see any dogs on the property, and that she posted a notice stating that Animal Control needed to speak to Mr. Jackson about his dogs. Again on May 21st (Memo M13-068925) Officer Montez-Kemp says she went to Jackson’s address and this time “saw 2 brown pitbull (sic) mixes in front yard, they were barking but unable to get out of fenced in yard. I was unable to make contact with anyone on the property” and goes on to say she posted a note demanding the owner of the property to get in touch with animal control.
From April 12th to May 9th, the record shows the DACC did nothing.
Mr. Jackson told Animal Control on April 12th that the dogs were not his. There are multiple post-dated entries saying that various officers had observed the dogs, who they were supposed to be investigating. If Mr. Jackson was taken at his word, and the dogs were not his, it was the DACC’s duty to impound the dogs as strays. If they had suspicions that the dogs belonged to Jackson, the officers should have cited him for having more than three dogs, having unlicensed dogs, and failing to have his dogs neutered.
In an e-mail sent by Marcia Mayeda to Attorney David Casselman on August 9th, Mayeda claims “We made several visits to Jackson’s home to find the dogs but never saw them.” This statement is inconsistent with the notes which were timely entered into Chameleon.
The inconsistencies, and the entry of post-dated notes offering a revisionist history of how the matter was handled, strongly suggest that Mayeda and her Lancaster underlings are at best clumsily engaging in a cover-up.
As a lawyer said upon examining the DACC’s records, “I would love to be the one representing Mrs. Devitt’s estate in a lawsuit. The verdict could reach well into 8 figures”. This does not bode well for Los Angeles County which we have been told does not carry insurance and has elected to self insure – and it bodes even worse for the taxpayers who are going to have to cough up the dough to pay the verdicts, and the shelter pets who will die because there isn’t enough funding to take care of them.
In other news concerning the Lancaster shelter, for the third time in the last few months money has gone missing from the facility. Things have gotten so bad that the County Auditor was called in to take a look. We do not know what his findings are, but the Lancaster shelter has changed all the keys to its locks, and now is required to send two people, from their understaffed shelter, to the bank to make all their bank deposits. This comes at the same time that rumors are rife that there is a great deal more money missing from their licensing department… but in more cheerful Lancaster news, the shelter did win Marcia Mayeda’s services as a kennel attendant for one day on January 3rd. So if you want to meet Ms. Mayeda, and let her know what a wonderful job she is doing – this will be a rare opportunity to meet this elusive public servant. Of course she will probably be traveling with security paid for with your hard earned tax dollars, but quite frankly given the amount of stuff gone missing at Lancaster – we totally understand!