Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon said the man suspected of killing two El Monte officers had “no history of violence.”
Tuesday’s update came after Gascón’s opponents accused Gascón of giving the alleged killer, Justin William Flores, a light sentence for a previous violent crime.
Gascon said the suspect had multiple nonviolent drug offenses, a weapon charge and was last arrested nearly 10 years ago for breaking into his grandparents’ residence and stealing a television.
“A long period of time passed without any contact with the justice system,” Gascón said Tuesday. “We can ‘if’ this thing to death. There are certainly many opportunities where a catastrophe, a tragedy, could have occurred, but the reality is that when you have the story that this individual had, the outcome was appropriate for the circumstances.”
The district attorney addressed further rumors that the bureau would pay for the suspect’s funeral, dispelling the idea as “untrue.”
“This man was not the victim of a crime. He is suspicious and we would not pay for his services,” Gascón said. “We have made it very clear.”
The two officers killed in the shooting were El Monte Police Corporal Michael Paredes and Officer Joseph Santana, both El Monte natives.
Officers were responding to a domestic violence emergency call. Upon arrival, a shootout ensued in which both the officers and the suspect were killed.
“We cannot use individual tragedies to make politics,” Gascón said Tuesday. “We have done this in the past, reacting harshly to isolated incidents that make us scared and angry. But it failed to increase community safety, contributed to mass incarceration, and drained our public coffers of funds that we could otherwise spend on education, health care, housing, infrastructure, and economic development.”
Organizers of a Gascón impeachment campaign said they obtained the 566,857 signatures required for an impeachment and would use the next few days to harness their signatures to account for the possibility that some may not qualify for verification.
“We are officially within striking distance of initiating a recall against George Gascón, but the urgency of collecting signatures in these final days will be greater than ever,” campaign organizers wrote in a press release. “We must build the necessary cushion for the 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 submit them for verification.