Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon said the man suspected of killing two El Monte officers did not have a “history of violence.”
The Tuesday update came after Gascón opposers accused Gascón of giving the alleged killer, Justin William Flores, a light sentence for a previous violent offense.
Gascón said the suspect had multiple non-violent drug-related offenses, a charge for possessing a gun and was last arrested nearly 10 years ago for breaking into his grandparent’s residence and stealing a TV.
“He went through a lengthy period of time without any contact with the justice system,” Gascón said Tuesday. “We can ‘if’ this thing to death. There’s certainly many opportunities where catastrophe, a tragedy could have occurred, but the reality is that when you have the history that this individual had, the outcome was appropriate to the circumstances.”
The district attorney addressed further rumors that the office would pay for the suspect’s funeral, dispelling the notion, calling it a “falsehood.”
“This man was not a victim of a crime. He is a suspect and we would not pay for his services,” Gascón said. “We have made that very clear.”
The two officers killed in the shooting were El Monte PD Corporal Michael Paredes and Officer Joseph Santana, both El Monte natives.
The officers were responding to an emergency domestic violence call. Upon arrival, a shoot out ensued with both the officers and suspect being killed.
“We cannot use single tragedies to make policy,” Gascón said Tuesday. “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.”
Organizers for a Gascón recall campaign said they secured the required 566,857 signatures for a recall and would use the following days to build upon its signatures to account for the possibility of some not qualifying for verification.
“We are officially within striking distance of initiating a recall against George Gascón, but the urgency for signature collection in these final days will be greater than ever,” campaign organizers wrote in a press release. “We must build the necessary cushion for signatures that are inevitably invalidated. The only thing that can stop us at this point is complacency.”
The campaign has until June 30 to collect signatures and turn them in for verification.