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Widow of LASD deputy who died by suicide files suit against county for excessive OT

“The public is not safe,” Michele Atilano said. “All you have are a bunch of deputies who are zombies – zombies walking around tired, always tired. They’re not even there”

4 current and former LASD employees die by suicide in 24-hour span

Sheriff Robert Luna said he had the “deepest concern for our employees’ well-being,” adding that the department was “urgently exploring avenues to reduce work stress factors to support our employees’ work and personal lives.”

Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Suicide is always preventable. If you are having thoughts of suicide or feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline immediately at 988. Counselors are also available to chat at Remember: You deserve to be supported, and it is never too late to seek help. Speak with someone today.

By Joanna Putman

LOS ANGELES — The widow of a Los Angeles County deputy who died by suicide has filed a claim against the department, alleging that excessive mandatory overtime and lack of department support led to her husband’s death, KTLA reported.

Michele Atilano told KTLA that her husband, Arturo Atilano-Valdez, fatally shot himself in their home. He had been struggling with work-related stress after working long hours at the county jail.

“The public is not safe,” Michele said. “All you have are a bunch of deputies who are zombies – zombies walking around tired, always tired. They’re not even there. How are they going to save lives?”

Arturo was one of four current and former LASD employees to die by suicide within a 24-hour span, according to the report. Eight suicides have been reported within the department this year.

“The deputies are working so much overtime that it’s literally causing death,” said Brad Gage, Michele’s attorney. “[The department’s] conscious disregard of the safety and rights of the employees is part of the lawsuit.”

Sheriff Robert Luna has stated that he’s prioritizing mental health services and introducing a multi-phase plan to reduce overtime, according to the report.

The lawsuit comes as the family of Ryan Clinkunbroomer, an LASD deputy who was killed in the line of duty in September, have also claimed that excessive overtime contributed to his death.

“Disregarding the safety of his troops, Sheriff Luna continues to force his deputies to work mind-numbing overtime, resulting in Ryan’s death and the likely death of other deputies,” the Clinkunbroomers’ lawsuit claims.

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