Former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies All-Star Lenny Dykstra has filed suit on Wednesday, claiming that Los Angeles County Jail deputies brutally beat him, without provocation, when he was incarcerated there two years ago. Dykstra claims that the beatings occurred following his arrests for grand theft auto and providing a false financial statement. Based on the lawsuit, which claims the beatings took place in April, 2012, they also would have been around the same time that the three-time All-Star had pleaded no contest to a charge of exposing himself to women that he met on Craig’s List.
The former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies center fielder has fallen a long way down since he retired in the spring of 1996. When he was forced out of the game at age 33 by a spinal cord issue, he then turned to business. After a successful stint as a businessman where Dykstra owned a number of southern California car washes bearing his name, the former World Series hero parlayed his aggressive, go for broke attitude, into a successful Wall Street career.
The former ball player’s success and overconfidence, however, got the best of him. After becoming the host of a radio show and a penning a regular newspaper column designed to help investors maximize their profits, he claimed a 90 percent success rate and turned his attention to the most expensive luxuries money could buy. He borrowed more than $20 million to purchase Wayne Gretzky’s California mansion, with the hope that he would flip it and turn a quick profit. This decision was the beginning of the end for the slugger. The house did not sell. The bank foreclosed, and the multimillionaire was all of a sudden seeking bankruptcy protection.
Following the real estate fiasco, Dykstra repeatedly found himself on the wrong end of the law. This began with a bankruptcy fraud indictment in 2011 and culminated with 25 multiple counts of grand theft auto, identity theft and possession of cocaine, ecstasy and Somatropin, a type of human growth hormone. It was in this fragile state that the former center fielder says he was beaten without provocation by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies. In suing the L.A. County jail over this, Dykstra also claims that the jail’s top officials attempted to keep him from speaking out about the incident.
Along with accusing the sheriff’s department of a cover-up, the gritty slugger once known as “Nails” by his teammates, claims in his lawsuit that his head was repeatedly bashed in, his teeth were knocked out and he was mercilessly beaten and kicked to the point that he says he was barely breathing. In the suit Dykstra seeks an undisclosed amount of damages from a number of sheriff’s department employees as well as the county of Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has not made an official response to the lawsuit. Back in December of 2012, however, during Dykstra’s sentencing for fraud charges, the department’s spokesman, Steve Whitmore, conceded that Dykstra had been involved in a physical altercation with some deputies. Whitmore claimed that Dykstra was the aggressor in the incident, though, and the group of deputies were simply trying to restrain him.
Dykstra’s lawsuit alleges that the Los Angeles County jail system is “fueled by abusive violence, and manipulated by hopeless liars.” The operation has been put under the microscope recently as a federal probe of the jail system has led to the indictment of 20 sheriff’s department employees. Dykstra suing the L.A. county jail is just the next domino to fall in a very public undressing of the sheriff’s department.
Commentary by Jeremy Mika