In the wake of a Los Angeles Times report that more than a dozen LAPD Metro Division cops are being investigated for falsely identifying suspects as gang members, George Gascón is calling on Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey to put the breaks on all prosecutions involving the potentially tainted evidence.
“Justice is not served by pursuing cases where the material witness has massive credibility problems,” a spokesman for Gascón tells Los Angeles. “DA Lacey is now on notice of these allegations. That means she must work with the police department to identify cases involving the officers in question, and she must put those cases on hold.”
The former San Francisco D.A. and LAPD assistant chief–who is currently running to take Lacey’s job–also released a public statement on the matter. “Police are the guardians of our community,” it reads. “When our guardians betray the public’s trust it is incumbent upon the District Attorney to safeguard the integrity of the system by ensuring that betrayal does not undermine the fair administration of justice. Therefore, DA Lacey must pause any prosecution where one of the officers under investigation is a material witness.”
.@LADAOffice must pause these prosecutions during the @LAPDHQ‘s investigation. And to safeguard the integrity of criminal justice system that needs to happen immediately. https://t.co/EYmcwI9WMK pic.twitter.com/YDf9Nbd5CE
— George Gascón (@GeorgeGascon) January 8, 2020
The officers under scrutiny were on special patrols in southern Los Angeles, where sources say they falsified field interview cards during stops in order to bolster their statistics. In at least one case, body camera video is said to contradict an officer’s written description of a suspect’s interview.
“[I]f these allegations are found to be true,” Gascón’s statement continues, “the office must conduct a thorough review of every conviction in which these officers were involved in order to determine whether the evidence still supports a conviction. Such a review is imperative in order to restore community trust, as any conviction obtained in reliance upon uncorroborated evidence by an officer who falsified evidence would likely need to be dismissed. Convictions secured with tainted evidence are a miscarriage of justice and a stain on the system’s moral authority.”
Gascón’s challenge to his rival could be seen as a shrewd political move. After launching such reforms as 2014’s Proposition 47, which reclassified certain low level crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and allowed convicts to renegotiate their sentences, Gascón has been seen as one of the most forward-thinking leaders in law enforcement–but has won few friends in police unions.
Lacey, meanwhile, has the backing of most law enforcement agencies, though that popularity could dip if she were in fact to halt the prosecutions at issue.
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