LA Sheriff's Department fined by regulators after Deputy dies in mobile shooting range explosion

LOS ANGELES, CA - The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has found itself afoul of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health after the death of LASD Deputy Alfredo “Freddy” Flores, 51, from injuries he sustained in an explosion and fire at a mobile shooting range. Cal/OSHA determined that the Sheriff's Department neglected maintenance and committed "willful" safety violations leading to the incident.

Reporting released Friday by The Los Angeles Times shows that Cal/OSHA levied approximately $300,000 in fines against the LASD citing multiple safety violations in the mobile shooting range trailer parked outside the Castaic jail complex which suffered an explosion and fire resulting in the eventual death of Flores.

The inspectors concluded a buildup of combustible dust, including gunpowder accumulation, started the fire.
Flores was injured severely on October 10, 2023, when a fire and explosion occurred at the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic. He was hospitalized for nearly six months and passed away due to his extensive injuries on April 20th, according to CBS News.

According to the Times, Cal/OSHA wrote in a 19-page finding that stated, "The employer failed to conduct daily, weekly, monthly, and bi-annual preventive maintenance on the indoor mobile shooting trailer. As a result, on or about October 10, 2023, two employees suffered serious physical harm to their body when the indoor trailer exploded and caught on fire."

Attorney John Carpenter who represents the Flores family told the outlet, "We now know that Freddy lost his life because mobile trailers like the one he was in had a known history of catching fire due to poor design and poor maintenance."

Conversely, The Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs has placed the blame squarely upon the LA County Board of Supervisors, arguing the tragedy was caused by a failure of the Board to "properly fund and equip" the department. Richard Pippin, President of the union told the Times via email, "The fire that caused Freddy’s tragic death was foreseeable and avoidable."

As reported by Daily News, the LASD is budgeted for $4 Billion citing Los Angeles County CEO Fesia Davenport with a manpower allocation only allowing for 24 additional positions and about $300.6 million or 10% going toward "'Care First, Jails Last' priorities aimed at incarceration diversion programs."

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