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of sending youth to the adult court system… All pending motions to transfer youth to adult court jurisdiction shall be withdrawn.”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When Gascón took office, he ordered that this motion be withdrawn.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.