The household of an El Monte police officer who was slain this 12 months has filed a discover of declare in search of hundreds of thousands in damages towards Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón and the L.A. County Probation Division.
Janine Paredes — whose husband, Michael, was one among two officers gunned down throughout a confrontation at a motel in June — filed the discover of declare Wednesday, blaming each Gascón’s felony justice reform insurance policies and lax supervision by the probation division for placing the suspected gunman, Justin Flores, within the officers’ path on the day of the lethal conflict.
A discover of declare is step one in submitting a civil lawsuit, which is able to in all probability be carried out early subsequent 12 months, based on the Paredes household lawyer, Mark Peacock.
The declare alleges Flores “ought to have been in custody on the time of the murders however for the deliberate indifference” of Gascón and the probation division, which allowed “Flores to freely roam and prey on these unsuspecting individuals who work and dwell within the Metropolis of El Monte within the County of Los Angeles.”
A documented gang member, Flores had a number of convictions for housebreaking and drug possession and was on probation when Paredes and Officer Joseph Santana confronted him on the Siesta Inn in June.
The officers had been responding to a home violence name when Flores emerged from a toilet and shot them each within the head, authorities have mentioned. Flores then allegedly raced into the car parking zone with one of many fallen officers’ weapons, the place authorities say he engaged in a firefight with different officers and was killed.
Within the days after the taking pictures, many in legislation enforcement turned their ire towards Gascón, claiming Flores would have been in jail if not for the district lawyer’s controversial refusal to file sentencing enhancements towards defendants.
Flores, who was awaiting fees on drug and gun possession in early 2021, was sentenced to 2 years’ probation below the phrases of a plea deal. Some have argued he ought to have confronted further jail time for a previous “strike offense,” a 2011 housebreaking conviction, which may have resulted in Flores being incarcerated on the time of the killings.
Gascón mentioned the plea deal was according to these supplied by prior administrations and famous the prior housebreaking crime was nonviolent. However The Instances reviewed paperwork this 12 months that confirmed the prosecutor on the case particularly cited Gascón’s coverage when submitting a report rescinding the usage of an enhancement towards Flores. The coverage was later deemed unlawful by a Los Angeles County Superior Courtroom decide.
“Our hearts exit to the household of Sgt. Paredes. His tragic homicide is a devastating loss to each his household, mates and the group he bravely served. We’ve got nothing however empathy for many who are struggling,” the district lawyer’s workplace mentioned in a press release Tuesday.
A spokesman for Gascón mentioned the workplace had not seen the tort declare but and couldn’t touch upon it.
A Instances investigation additionally raised severe questions in regards to the probation division’s supervision of Flores. Within the days earlier than the killings, the probation division obtained reviews that Flores had overwhelmed a lady and was in possession of a gun, each incidents that might have resulted in his probation being revoked.
Flores’ mom additionally instructed The Instances she referred to as her son’s probation officer in early June to report that he had relapsed in March and begged his probation officer for assist, however the officer refused to debate the case together with her.
The Instances report sparked an investigation by the L.A. County Workplace of the Inspector Common, which later discovered probation employees had seen Flores in particular person only one time within the 16 months he was below county supervision. The probation division additionally fully misplaced monitor of Flores for 3 months in 2021, based on the inspector basic’s preliminary findings, and repeatedly did not provoke “desertion” proceedings that might have resulted in his arrest lengthy earlier than the killings.
The Flores case is the most recent in a string of scandals for the probation division. On Monday, a Instances investigation detailed months of chaos inside L.A. County’s juvenile halls, that are overseen by the company.
“Whereas we can not touch upon pending litigation, the Los Angeles County Probation Division continues to increase our deepest condolences to the households and family members of the 2 heroic El Monte Police Division officers,” probation division spokeswoman Karla Tovar mentioned in an electronic mail. “We assist and stand in solidarity with the El Monte Police Division.”
The Santana household is just not a part of the authorized motion, based on Peacock, who mentioned Janine Paredes filed the declare to hunt accountability for what she sees as failures by two arms of legislation enforcement that had lethal penalties for her husband.
“After the murders occurred, all people is leaping on Gascón and what he did not do, after which whenever you do a deep dive, you see the probation division had a possibility to get this man off the streets, and so they didn’t do this,” Peacock mentioned. “It’s an ideal storm … that resulted within the homicide of somebody’s husband and somebody’s dad.”
Instances employees author Richard Winton contributed to this report.