Lompoc stabbing victim sues school district over racial hostility
April 24, 2013
The victim of a brutal stabbing carried out by gang members at Lompoc High School has filed suit against the Lompoc Unified School District over its alleged indifference to a hostile racial climate.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges that members of the Hispanic Lompoc gang, Westside VLP, racially intimidated and physically attacked Brandon Moorman, an African American, on a regular basis before stabbing the 17-year-old student in a school bathroom on March 28, 2011. Moorman’s suit, which is scheduled to go to trial April 30, claims that school officials chose to ignore numerous reports of racially motivated attacks prior to the stabbing.
“Moorman alleges that the fight resulted from a racially ‘hostile education environment’ and that the district acted with ‘deliberate indifference’ toward Moorman’s safety,” the suit says.
On the day of the stabbing, Westside VLP affiliate Marco Dominguez, 18, pressured Moorman into fighting. Moorman eventually obliged and chose an English building bathroom as the fight location. Three other Westside VLP gang members, Saul Rivera, 16, Christian Ortiz, 17, and Ruben Garcia, 15, then joined Dominguez in the bathroom and participated in the beating, kicking and stabbing of Moorman.
Though juveniles at the time, Dominguez, Rivera and were triad as adults for assault with deadly weapons convictions with gang enhancements.
In March 2012, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Patricia Kelly sentenced Rivera to seven years in prison, which he must serve 85 percent of before he is eligible for parole. Dominguez and Ortiz were each sentenced to four years in prison and are required to serve half the sentence before they are eligible for parole.
Moorman’s suit states that during his first two and half years on campus, Westside VLP gang members jumped him, chased him around the school, pressured him to fight, harassed him for talking to girls and called him a “nigger.” It also alleges that the affiliates jumped Moorman’s brother and another African American student, Billy Williams.
Moorman’s parents reported incidents of racial intimidation and violence to school officials during their son’s freshman, sophomore and junior years on campus. The victim’s parents contacted the principal, assistant principal, school counselor, school safety liaison and school safety officer, yet Lompoc Unified remained indifferent to the escalating racial tension, the suit alleges.
The complaint also states that Westside VLP affiliates targeted Moorman for wearing the color red to school, accusing him of associating with the Bloods gang. Moorman’s parents reported the issue, and both the school safety officer and liaison responded by advising that their son not wear red to school.
When the stabbing occurred, a staff member responsible for monitoring bathroom activity happened to be absent, Moorman stated in a court declaration.
“When I returned to school, an English teacher, Ms. Arcuni, apologized to me because she said she was supposed to be monitoring the bathroom on the day I was stabbed,” Moorman stated. “In the three years I attended Lompoc High School, I always saw a monitor supervising the bathrooms.”
In addition to the stab wounds, Moorman suffered a busted lip, a split eyebrow and a right knee sprain in the bathroom fight. At Lompoc High, Moorman played on the football team, and he aspired to play the sport collegiately. But, the stabbing victim claims that his wounds, as well as his knee sprain he suffered from getting kicked by the gang members, have hindered his ability to compete, and he has chosen to give up the sport.
“It feels really embarrassing just being the one to be stabbed and just known at the high school,” Moorman said. “Instead of like being something you’re known for like playing a sport or something, just being known like you got stabbed and everything.”
Midway through his senior year, Moorman transferred out of Lompoc High School. Moorman’s friend, Williams, too, transferred schools.
“It is well-known that the Westside VLP gang controls the neighborhood surrounding Lompoc High School and blacks cannot go walk down some of the streets in that neighborhood,” Williams testified.
Lompoc Unified School District officials declined to comment on the case.