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“We have an imperfect system,” embattled Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón told the press late yesterday, but disclaimed any responsibility for its latest imperfections.
“We can ‘if’ this thing to death,” Gascón added, while the families of two dead El Monte police officers have to do that literally:
[Justin William] Flores had been “drug-addicted for many years” and previously arrested “multiple times for a variety of low-level offenses,” most of which were drug-related, the DA said.
“And then almost a decade ago, he was arrested and convicted for burglarizing his grandparents’ home for stealing a TV,” Gascon said. “He then remained pretty much away from the criminal justice system until the arrest in this particular case, where he was arrested for possession of drugs for personal use and possession of a gun.”
Gascon added that Flores “could have” gone to jail under his policies had the suspect been tried.
“We can ‘if’ this thing to death,” he said. “There’s certainly many opportunities for a catastrophe — a tragedy — to have occurred, but the reality is that when you have the history that this individual had, the outcome was appropriate under the circumstances.”
That’s a breathtakingly impolitic turn of phrase, considering the outcome of the Flores case. They and the city of El Monte will have to “if this thing” well past the point of death, in fact. The families will spend the rest of their own lives dealing with the outcome of Gascón’s radical decarceration policies. They and other police officers will continue to wonder whether law enforcement is worth the sacrifice when prosecutors refuse to follow the law and work harder to put criminals back on the street than behind bars.
“This has been a difficult few days in Los Angeles County, and many people are in pain, mourning the loss of these heroic officers,” District Attorney Gascón said. “I know that their families will be grieving for a long time, and that no words will ease their suffering. As a former police officer, I deeply appreciate the sacrifices of these officers and their commitment to making our county safe.”
“We cannot use single tragedies to make policy,” District Attorney Gascón said. “We have done that in the past, reacting harshly to isolated incidents that frighten and anger us. But it failed to increase community safety, contributed to mass incarceration and emptied our public coffers of funds we could otherwise devote to education, healthcare, housing, infrastructure and economic development.”
“There will be time over the coming months for reflection, which we should always do and which our office has done,” District Attorney Gascón said. “It is clear we need to do more to provide supervision and reentry services, but we cannot allow our anger to lead us to falsely conclude the worst-case scenario is the norm.”
This wasn’t a case of failed supervision and re-entry services, declared the union representing LA deputy prosecutors. This was the result of Gascón’s contempt for the law and his dishonest take on Flores and other felons with repeat violations:
Paredes and Santana were responding to a local motel over reports of a possible stabbing when they encountered a suspect. A shootout occurred, and both officers were struck. They later died in a Los Angeles hospital, officials said.
Nineteen months prior, Siddall added, Gascon “issued an order that all strikes offenses that were charged by the prior district attorney were to be stricken.”
“He ordered that all cases eligible for probation should be given probation. Those were his orders,” Siddall wrote. “On February 10, 2021, Flores – a gang member charged with felon with possession of a firearm, possession of methamphetamine, and illegal possession of ammunition – was the beneficiary of this policy. Under California state law, Flores was ineligible for probation and faced a minimum sentence of 32 months in state prison. Instead, because of Gascón policies, he received probation.”
We’ve heard a lot about the need to crack down on gun owners from progressives lately, who want to pass all sorts of new laws to enforce. Why bother when prosecutors won’t apply those laws to felons and ex-cons?
Not only that, but Flores had already been arrested again between his probation and the shooting:
Justin Flores had served two prison terms, and was arrested on a firearm charge in March 2020.
He pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm last year, and could have been sentenced to up to three years in prison — but was slapped with probation and 20 days in jail instead under a deal with Gascón’s office.
Flores allegedly violated the probation by assaulting his girlfriend last week but he remained free ahead of a pending June 27 hearing, reports said.
Gascón now wants to parse out whether Flores actually got convicted of a “violent” crime in his previous burglary and car-theft cases. Wouldn’t a domestic assault be considered “violent” — and a probation violation requiring incarceration, for that matter? Where was Gascón’s office when Flores did turn violent?
Gascón and his office aren’t working to keep criminals off the streets — they’re working to empty the jails and the prisons. The rising crime rates in places where radical DAs like Gascón make those decisions show that these are not “single tragedies,” but a growing body of evidence that the “worst case scenario” is rapidly becoming the norm. The progressives of San Francisco belatedly reached that conclusion and gave Chesa Boudin the boot, and Los Angeles will have its opportunity to do the same to Gascón in November. A man with more honor and integrity would have already resigned at this point, but voters can instead impose accountability on Gascón directly.