Gascón’s Refusal to Prosecute Leads to More Asian Crime Victims

By Eric Siddall

Gascón’s insistence on not prosecuting and holding fully accountable accused criminals has had repeated deadly consequences for residents of Los Angeles County. For Asian residents, this subversion of the criminal justice system has resulted in tragedies such as the murder of Dal Keun Lee.

Dal Keun Lee is the latest Asian victim of Gascón’s policies, randomly stabbed in the neck and killed on May 5, 2022, while sitting in his work truck in South LA. The defendant, Keonte Woods, was a known violent criminal, having been arrested the previous week for an unprovoked attack of another Asian man near USC. In that case, Woods stabbed the victim in the neck and sliced the victim’s hand when he slapped the stabbing object away from his neck.  Yet, felony charges requested by LAPD were rejected and the case referred to the City Attorney for misdemeanor charges, with the DA belatedly filing felony charges only filed after Mr. Lee was murdered.

Other anti-Asian hate crimes have been rejected pursuant to Gascon policies, forcing other prosecution agencies to file charges for justice to be served. For example, Steve Lee Dominguez was caught on camera driving through protesters at a “Stop Asian Hate” rally. When no charges were filed by the District Attorney, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California secured a federal grand jury indictment against Dominguez on two counts of bias-motivated interference with federally protected activities.

When 67-year-old Paul Lao, a Lyft driver, was beaten and then robbed at gunpoint while sitting in his car at a gas station. During the attack, defendant Dandre Lorenz Powell shouted several times “Go back to China!” Despite this clear evidence of racial bias, no hate crime charges or allegations were filed.

Gascón has made clear since taking office that lessening any punishment defendants may face, and reversing punishment for already convicted state prison inmates, are his priorities. His abandonment of victims targeted for their membership in a racial minority, such as the Asian victims whose cases are covered above, is a result of these policies. Los Angeles has become less safe under Gascón, and even when caught, criminals can be sure “Gascon has their back.”

Eric W. Siddall is Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.

Gascón’s Recent Statements Are 100% False

By Eric Siddall

Gascón’s refused to hold Victor Bibiano accountable for a 2009 double murder. That decision was based solely on Gascón’s ideological policy. There is no science, no data, and no consideration for public safety supporting his position. It was a policy based upon having the “lightest touch” on all criminals. The same failed reasoning kept Justin Flores on the streets on June 14, 2022, when he murdered two El Monte police officers. It is why Mario Rodriguez was murdered on April 16, 2022.

Yet, today, Gascón denies responsibility for these failed policies. He rewrites history, ignores the consequences of his policies, and claims that facts, not ideology, guided his decisions.

Gascón’s statement is 100 percent false.

On December 7, 2020, Gascón issued an order, Special Directive 20-09. Like 20-08, the order that released Flores, it was a blanket policy that ended holding juveniles accountable for heinous criminal conduct. SD 20-09 stated: “The office will immediately END the practice of sending youth to the adult court system… All pending motions to transfer youth to adult court jurisdiction shall be withdrawn.”

No exceptions or individual factors were considered. No matter how heinous the crime, no matter how irredeemable the criminal, no matter the consequences of the policy, that person would remain in juvenile court.

Bibiano was a direct beneficiary of Gascón’s policy. Rodriguez was a direct victim of the same. Bibiano was a gang member who murdered two people and seriously injured a third. He was convicted by a jury. An appellate court upheld his conviction. Because of a change in the law, the only question now was whether he would serve his time in the juvenile system or state prison.

However, that first option was not feasible. If the court selected the juvenile system because of Bibiano’s age, that meant his immediate release even though he committed a double murder. Bibiano would receive no rehabilitative services, no monitoring, and no further punishment.

The District Attorney’s Office under the prior administration filed a motion asking the court asking to keep Bibiano in prison.

When Gascón took office, he ordered that this motion be withdrawn. This meant that Bibiano—despite murdering two people—would be released back into the public.

This decision was not based on the law or individual facts. Nor was any consideration given that because of Bibiano’s age—the rehabilitative services that Gascón says he believes in—would not be offered to Bibiano.

Nor did Gascón ever analyze the merits of the case (as he now claims). His policy did not allow for it. His decision was based entirely on his blanket-policy never to punish juveniles as criminals. He did this while ignoring the Court of Appeal order, the advice of the assigned trial attorney and other experienced prosecutors, and defying common sense.

Gascón today wants the public to believe that he did all this analysis. He wants the public to ignore his administration’s history of bad decision-making. He wants the public to forget about all the other absurd results caused by his policies.

Eric W. Siddall is Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.

Every murder is tragic, preventable ones are inexcusable

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Every murder is tragic, preventable ones are inexcusable

By Eric Siddall

On June 14, 2022, El Monte Police Officers Santana and Paredes were brutally murdered by Justin Flores. In their final sacrifice, the officers boldly rushed towards danger where others would not. No words will satisfy the debt we owe to these two men, nor will any give comfort to the two families left behind.

Under California law, Flores should have been in a state prison cell on the day he murdered the two officers. Instead, because of George Gascón’s policies, he was in a hotel room in El Monte beating his girlfriend until two officers responded for the call for help. Now two officers are dead.

To the fallen officers, Gascón offered his “thoughts and prayers.”

This hollow expression belies Gascón’s actions. Nineteen months earlier, George Gascón 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.

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.

As word spread of Gascón’s role in this killing, Gascón’s press operation attempted to misdirect the media about the consequences of his bad policy. His spokesperson—not an actual prosecutor—stated that “the sentence he received in the firearm case was consistent with case resolutions for this type of offense.” Later, the same spokesperson said, “experienced managers in the office have reviewed the facts of the case and the criminal history of Mr. Flores and determined that this [plea deal] offer was on par with offers in previous administrations.”

I challenge these “experienced managers” to come forward and explain why a career criminal gang member, who under the law is required to serve a state prison sentence, served ten days in county jail. Further, I am curious how they can explain why Flores served less time on illegal possession of a gun, ammunition, and drugs than he did for petty theft or a suspended license violation.

Gascón’s spokesperson continued the misdirection: “The sentencing directive is presumptive. We empower DDAs to rebut that presumption if they believe extraordinary circumstances exist … No such request was made in this case.”
These claims are false. First, Gascón’s policy had no exceptions regarding strikes. In relevant parts, his policy stated: “Any prior-strike enhancements (Penal Code § 667(d), 667(e); 1170.12(a) and 1170.12 (c)) will not be used for sentencing and shall be dismissed or withdrawn from the charging document.”

There was no appeal process nor exceptions to this policy. Another part of the same policy stated, “if the charged offense is probation-eligible, probation shall be the presumptive offer absent extraordinary circumstances warranting a state prison commitment…Extraordinary circumstances must be approved by the appropriate bureau director.” On a practical level, this meant no exception.

A brief analysis of the office makes it clear why this was the case. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office is the largest local prosecutorial agency in the nation. It is charged with prosecuting every state felony and almost all misdemeanors within Los Angeles County; with approximately ten million residents, it is the most populous county in the country and more populous than forty U.S. states. Historically, the DA’s office files between 30,000 to 50,000 felonies and 100,000 to 135,000 misdemeanors per year. There are 32 branch and area offices, not including the downtown courts.

Handling an operation of this size requires delegating decision-making at the court level. This is precisely why most offers on cases were made by experienced line-prosecutors or their immediate supervisors. Bureau directors, historically, were rarely involved because they had other duties, including approving more complicated requests, like leniency or immunity, structuring their respective bureaus, and implementing policy. Requiring that five bureau directors manage the individual case settlement of approximately 50,000 cases would be an absurd proposition.

Yet, this is exactly what Gascón did when he required bureau director approval on non-probationary offers. Five bureau directors were now responsible for making offers on all cases if the trial, calendar, deputy-in-charge, or head deputy sought a deviation from the presumptive probationary policy. Effectively, this meant probation was given on many troubling cases—including Flores—because requiring bureau director approval is the same as not giving an exception to the policy.

This absurd requirement was purposeful. In an office with this volume, if deputies made deviation requests, the entire system would collapse. Decisions normally made within an hour would take months.

June 14, 2022 was the end result of this policy. A career criminal who should never have been out murdered two officers who were trying to help a vulnerable victim. Bad policy mixed with bad facts resulted in an unforgivable consequence. We must do better.

Eric Siddall is Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.

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Ominous Signs for George Gascón

By James R. Bozajian

It has been said that the wheels of justice grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine. And so it was with San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, as he was overwhelmingly and unceremoniously tossed from office courtesy of a recall election held on June 7th.

Campaigning on a platform calling for “criminal justice reform,” Boudin was elected to the position of District Attorney in 2019. While many of his so-called reforms were doomed from the outset, others might have succeeded had they been implemented thoughtfully, incrementally, and moderately. But instead, Boudin attempted to tear down the entire criminal justice system immediately upon taking office, seemingly unconcerned about the adverse consequences of his behavior.

Two years later, confronted with a soaring crime rate and a plummeting quality of life, San Francisco voters successfully petitioned to conduct a special recall election of Boudin. The recall was held in conjunction with the regularly scheduled 2022 California Primary.

Boudin spent much of the recall campaign making highly unpersuasive pitches to an electorate weary of his criminal-friendly policies. He claimed, for instance, that the recall movement was a conspiracy spearheaded by Republicans and Donald Trump partisans. But registered Republicans make up a scant 6.73% of the electorate in San Francisco, and Trump scored an underwhelming 12.7% of the vote there in 2020 — which was actually an improvement on the 9.3% he got in 2016.

Clearly, Boudin did not get removed because of a conservative plot in San Francisco. He lost because a broad and diverse coalition of the public, spanning across the political spectrum, decided that enough was enough. Since Boudin’s soft-on-crime tenure began, San Francisco (where uniquely, the consolidated city and county governments are one and the same) has descended into lawlessness. By every possible measure — public safety, economics, and even aesthetics — the city is a complete mess. In 2021, San Francisco suffered the worst depopulation of any major municipality in the United States, losing an estimated 6.3% of its residents in a single year. And while surging crime is not the only reason for this exodus, it is certainly a heavily contributing factor.

San Francisco’s experience might sound eerily familiar to those of us living here in Los Angeles County, because we are now confronted with a very similar situation. The destructive policies of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón are essentially the mirror image of what San Francisco just discarded.

What happened on Election Day symbolizes just how politically toxic the whole “defund the police” movement has become. If San Francisco — by some measures the most liberal county in the nation — could so decisively rid itself of a District Attorney who openly flouted his disdain for public safety, then the signs are ominous indeed for George Gascón. It is only a matter of time.

James R. Bozajian has served as a Calabasas City Councilmember/Mayor since 1997. He was a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney from 1990 to 2014, and is an ADDA Past President. James can be contacted at