Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon has refused to seek the death penalty for a self-proclaimed gang member accused of murdering one Whittier police officer and wounding another.
The accused gunman, 30-year-old Michael Christopher Mejia, is awaiting trial for the Feb. 20, 2017 shooting death of 53-year-old Whittier Police Officer Keith Boyer, KTTV reported.
Officer Boyer’s partner, Patrick Hazell, was shot in the abdomen during an exchange of gunfire with Mejia, who was out on parole at the time of the attack.
Officer Hazell survived his wounds.
“I delayed it. I should have smoked ‘em quicker,” Mejia allegedly told detectives after his arrest. “I mean, train your guys better. Train your guys better. They just got a taste of an L.A. gang member, real L.A. gang member. You know what I mean? And, nope, I don’t feel sorry. Because I know they would’ve dropped me. They wouldn’t feel sorry for my family.”
Mejia is also awaiting trial for allegedly murdering his own cousin, 47-year-old Roy Torres, in East Los Angeles prior to shooting the officers, KTTV reported.
Prosecutors included special circumstance allegations of murder for the purpose of avoiding arrest, murder of a peace officer in the performance of his duties, and multiple murders in the charges against the gang member.
He was also charged with carjacking, attempted murder of a peace officer, and possession of a firearm by a felon with two prior convictions, KTTV reported.
According to court documents, Mejia committed the offenses “for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in association with a criminal street gang.”
Prosecutors announced back in 2018 that they intended to seek the death penalty in Mejia’s case – a plan that Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys Garret Dameron and Geoff fought to uphold.
But during a hearing at Norwalk Courthouse on Feb. 18, Dameron said Gascon ordered them to drop the death penalty consideration, despite their objections, FOX News reported.
“Over the objection of Mr. Lewin and I and despite our attempts to prevent this from happening, we’ve been ordered to remove the death penalty as punishment consideration in this case,” he told the court, according to KTTV.
#Lapd Officers run with other agencies, and our service members for #whittierpd officer Keith Boyer. pic.twitter.com/rEBO9CmrHr
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) March 19, 2017
Gascon, a 66-year-old native of Cuba, has declared in the past that he is complying with a “mandate from the public” and will not pursue the death penalty in any case in his jurisdiction.
“The special circumstance allegations and enhancements remain,” Gascon’s spokesperson, Greg Risling, told the Whittier Daily News. “Our office will not be asking to make a motion in the future to dismiss any other allegations.”
Gascon was a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) assistant chief and police chief in Mesa, Arizona before he was elected district attorney of San Francisco and then ran for office in Los Angeles.
Officer Boyer’s stepfather, Don Clark, said Gascon’s decision to drop the death penalty consideration in Mejia’s case felt like “a punch in the gut,” FOX News reported.
“People don’t realize how hard it is on the families,” Clark said during a FOX interview over the weekend. “What Gascon’s doing – not only to our family, but to the cousin’s family – but to so many other families…that’s absolutely horrendous.”
Just fell in line with #Whittier PD procession en route to funeral for Officer Keith Boyer. An incredible number of officers here. pic.twitter.com/69rTN7B3bg
— Greg Lee (@GregLeeKTVU) March 3, 2017
The Feb. 20, 2017 shootout between Mejia and the officers began at approximately 8 a.m., after Officer Boyer and Officer Hazell received a report of a crash near Mar Vista Street and Colima Road, KTTV reported.
Mejia, who had been involved in the collision, allegedly pulled out a semi-automatic handgun and started shooting at the officers when they arrived at the scene.
He later allegedly told detectives that he was trying to flee the scene, but that “the cops came right behind me, within two minutes,” KTTV reported.
Officer Boyer, a 27-year veteran-of-the-force, was getting ready to retire when he was murdered, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
He leaves behind his three adult children, as well as his stepfather and his mother.
Slain Officer Keith Boyer's locker memorial. His personal locker will always be his. https://t.co/3BhWSkSsnR pic.twitter.com/i1twfdCgyz
— Whittier Police Dept (@whittierpd) September 29, 2017
Mejia was shot in the back during the exchange of gunfire, KTTV reported.
According to investigators, Mejia said he could have carried the attack out more effectively, but that he held back when he saw the officers didn’t have their guns drawn when they first arrived at the scene.
“I delayed it. I should have smoked ’em quicker,” he told detectives in an audio recording, according to KTTV. “They didn’t come out with both guns pointed ’cause if they would have come out with both guns pointed, then it would have been a whole different ball game.”
“I should have put more slugs in him … I would have smoked both of them, then I would have really got away,” he said in the recording, according to the Whittier Daily News. “He’s lucky or he would have been in a casket right now…I swear to God he would have been dead dropped, homie.”
With regards to his cousin, Torres, the convicted felon said he had already “warned him” prior to killing him and that he should have “kept his nose clean,” KTTV reported.
“I guess you guys have everything down – smoked my cousin, smoked the cop…I mean, what else do you guys want? I shot another cop,” Mejia rattled off during the recorded interview with police. “I did it, I mean, I did it…both of ’em, all three of them had it coming.”