Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said the gunman who shot and killed two El Monte police officers had “no history of violence” as he defended how his office handled a recent weapons case against the cop killer.
Shooter William Flores was out on probation – though he could have been behind bars – following a 2021 plea deal connected to a drugs and weapons arrest when he shot and killed El Monte Corporal Michael Paredes, 42, and officer Joseph Santana, 31 on June 14 .
Gascon, during Tuesday afternoon’s press conference, argued Flores’ criminal history “did not contain any evidence of violence,” but instead he was someone who was addicted to drugs.
“The current case he’s arrested for possession of drugs, possession of a gun. He could have, even under my directives, he could have gone to jail. As a matter of fact, had the case been set to trial then it was very possible he could still be waiting for a trial date. He was on bail, he was out on bail,” Gascon said.
Gascon also insisted the possession of a firearm is not considered a violent crime.
“He was arrested for possession of drugs and possession of a gun, not the use of a gun,” Gascon said. “Under the circumstances, I believe it was an appropriate outcome.”
Flores was out on probation for a gun charge at the time of the shooting a day after his probation officer requested he return to court later this month for a hearing, court records showed.
The plea to the gun charge, a felony, could have sent him back to prison for three years, but got two years probation and 20 days in jail.
Flores served two terms in prison for vehicle theft and burglary and most recently was released in 2012, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Gascon said Flores was previously arrested for a variety of low-level offenses related to drugs over a period of time.
About ten years ago he was arrested for breaking into his grandparents’ home under the influence of drugs and stealing a television, Gascon said, which he also argued was not violent.
Flores then went through a “lengthy period of time without any contact with the criminal justice system,” Gascon claimed.
Flores killed himself when he was confronted by police at the motel where he shot the two cops.
The embattled Democratic district attorney is facing a potential recall of his election after San Francisco voters ousted District Attorney Chesa Boudin earlier this month over soft-on-crime policies.
Santana’s mother, Olga Garcia, ripped into Gascon last week, accusing him of giving more rights to criminals than law enforcement.
A fierce critic of Gascon, LA County Senior Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami, blasted Gascon following his remarks.
“The murderer of Officers Santana and Paredes was convicted in 2009 for a felony and went to prison. He was released then committed another felony and went back to prison. He was released and didn’t get off parole until 2016,” Hatami said in a statement. “He committed multiple misdemeanors between 2010 and 2022, he violated parole and probation repeatedly, and he committed domestic violence. That isn’t a person who has a ‘decade with no contact with the criminal justice system.’ That statement is just not true.”
Hatami also following Flores’ 2021 arrest, a prior strike against Flores was also alleged, but was removed due to Gascon’s blanket policy.
“The murderer was then given probation,” he said. “He should have at least been sentenced to 32 months in the state prison. George needs to own this. He’s running from it and making excuses. No leadership whatsoever.”
Gascon, during his press conference, said “when people are arrested for serious crimes, we work hard to ensure that there are serious consequences including lengthy periods of incarceration.”
He urged the public not to let one case dictate policy.
“I know this is frustrating to hear and it may not help heal the wounds for some,” he continued. “But we do not serve our community when we try to pretend that we can predict 100% of the time when these cases are going to occur.”
With post wires