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.