Los Angeles, CA – The newly-election Los Angeles County district attorney has vowed to go back and re-investigate all officer-involved shootings going back to 2012.
Los Angeles County District Attorney-Elect George Gascón said he planned to send out a letter before he was sworn in on Monday to notify law enforcement agencies across the county that he’s forming a panel of experts to review shootings, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
Gascón started reviewing past officer-involved shooting cases before he took office and said he had already identified four cases that needed to be re-opened.
The three-page letter that informed police officials of his latest intentions referred to the violent riots in the city as the “unrest over the summer” and blamed it on police killing people, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
The new district attorney also said shootings by police had “severely degraded our standing in the communities where we both work and live.”
“Compounding that dynamic is the reality that too often our profession has failed to hold its own to the same standards that we impose on the communities we are sworn to protect and serve,” Gascón wrote in the letter. “To repair this harm we must meet the demands of the public, and we must hold ourselves to the same standards as we do the communities we police.”
He said he planned to go back even further than he had previously promised, and will have the panel looking at officer-involved shootings going back as far as 2012, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
The letter said the panel would be made up of policing experts, civil rights attorneys, community members, and representatives from the University of California Irvine’s Civil Rights and Criminal Justice Clinic.
Gascón campaigned on a promise to overhaul the district attorney’s office which he said was part of an unfair criminal justice system, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The first meeting the newly-elected prosecutor participated in after he was elected was with Black Lives Matter organizers and family members of people who had been fatally shot by police.
He has since doubled-down on promises to make sweeping policy changes including barring prosecutors from seeking the death penalty, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Gascón has also said he will not try juveniles as adults or pursue sentence enhancements for gang crimes.
The former San Francisco district attorney has garnered praise from criminal justice reform advocates and inspired fear in prosecutors in the office he’s taking over, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Gascón has said he’s not concerned about opposition in the district attorney’s office and said many prosecutors under former Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey had reached out to him during his campaign to offer support.
He ran on a promise to prioritize rehabilitation over punishment for criminals, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The new district attorney’s transition team picks reflected his campaign promises and included a former federal public defender, a bail reform advocate, and a number of civil rights attorneys.
“I was elected by the people and this community will have a seat at the table as we work to modernize our criminal justice system,” Gascón said. “Those that have been directly impacted by the work of this office have unique insights that are integral to an effective administration.”
Critics have expressed concern that the new district attorney appeared to have given Black Lives Matter a seat at the table but not law enforcement or prosecutors, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“I think a lot of people are worried about becoming social workers when they’ve spent their lives being lawyers,” one deputy district attorney told the paper. “A lot us are in the position that we’re not just seeing a change in the administration, but we’re seeing a change in the core function of what we’ve chosen as our career.”
Another prosecutor told the Los Angeles Times they wished Gascón would just slow down with the broad policy changes.
“Everyone is kind of taking a wait-and-see approach because there’s going to be a lot of ramifications for unilaterally doing any big policy changes without doing a full review of all of those cases,” the prosecutor explained. “Some are easier to do than others.”