The elected officials of the California city, which lost two police officers in a shootout last week, unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon, becoming the 35th city in the Golden State to do so.
“We believe that District Attorney Gascon’s policies have been shown to be detrimental to public safety in El Monte and Los Angeles County, as well as detrimental to a goal that we share, or the rehabilitation of people from criminal activity, as evidenced by the high rate failures DA Gascon’s policy of not holding people accountable for their criminal actions,” reads a resolution confirming El Monte City Council’s 5-0 vote Tuesday night.
The resolution pointed the finger at Gascon’s “Special Directives” to reform prosecution in Los Angeles County, arguing that the policy undermined the criminal justice system and contributed to the killings of 42-year-old El Monte Police Department Corporal Michael Paredes and Officer Joseph. Santana, 31, June 14
“The poorly tested DA Gascon policy allowed a career criminal and a known gang member to roam the streets freely after a lenient plea agreement in 2021,” the city council said.
Los Angeles County Senior Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatamione of Gascon’s most outspoken critics, applauded El Monte for confirming the vote of no confidence.
“Thank you El Monte for supporting the victims, families, children and families of officers Santana and Paredes!” Khatami tweeted.
El Monte City Council held the vote just hours after Gascon, facing recall, held a press conference to defend its office’s handling of a previous drug and gun case against murder suspect William Flores.
“In this particular case, the story of the suspect, Mr. Flores, did not contain any evidence of violence,” Gascon said. “Basically, he was a man who had been a drug addict for many years.”
Investigators said the 35-year-old was on probation for his 2021 plea deal in which he shot Paredes and Santana while they were answering a domestic violence call at a motel.
Flores committed suicide when he was approached by reserve police officers.
Gascon said Flores “could have gone to jail” if his firearm possession case went to trial, but under the terms of his plea agreement, he was given a two-year suspended sentence and 20 days in jail.
The district attorney told reporters that possession of a firearm is not considered a violent crime.
“He was arrested for possession of drugs and weapons, not for the use of weapons,” Gascon said. “Under the circumstances, I believe it was the right outcome.”
Flores’ criminal history included two prison terms for auto theft and burglary – the latter involving stealing a TV set from his grandparents’ house while he was under the influence of drugs. It was last released in 2012.
Last week, Santana’s mother, Olga Garcia, blamed her son Gascon for the death, calling his criminal justice reform policies “insane” and accusing the chief prosecutor of giving more rights to criminals than police officers.