MY TURN-At the time that Beck abruptly left LAPD he left the LAPD in shambles, multiple civil lawsuits filed by Los Angeles police officers which named Los Angeles Police Command staff members as defendants, wide spread Infidelity by LAPD Command staff and violent crime on the rise.
Now Beck who for more than 30 was a member of LAPD professed to Protect and Serve the residents and stakeholders of the City of Los Angeles. However, at the end of his tenure Beck was first a politician and somewhere down the line a police officer.
Now Beck has endorsed George Gascon who is running to replace Jackie Lacey for the elected position Los Angeles County District Attorney.
George Gascon has advocated for police reform. I might add that most people including police officers believe that there needs to be changes in community policing. However, let’s not forget that the irresponsible decisions made by Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA City Council members have depleted our City's financial resources. Those financial resources needed to assist those individuals with mental health issues, addiction, and homelessness.
We also have to address the issue that we lack professionally trained individuals who specialize in the treatment and care of the mentally ill, those who are properly trained to provide services and treatment for those addicted to alcohol and illegal drugs, and assist with housing for the homeless. Remember that both the Mayor Garcetti and the City Council believed that it was far more important to secure the Olympics for the City, build a new soccer stadium, and construct more high-rises for the rich than address the issues of caring for city residents in need. Both the Mayor and Council members have placed the responsibility on the backs of police officers to solve all the ills of our society.
Now that former police chief Beck has endorsed Gascon, what is he saying? Gascon has stated that he believes that low level, non-violent criminal offenders should not be incarcerated. Is he saying that everyone who commits a crime is mentally ill, an alcoholic or addicted to illegal drugs and therefore need treatment instead of incarceration?
Why Beck and Gascon are Hypocrites
On July 10, 2010, two Los Angeles police officers assigned to Foothill Division were on patrol when they observed a vehicle commit a traffic violation. They then initiated a traffic stop. (remember that there is no such thing as a routine traffic stop). The driver exited from his vehicle with a loaded firearm in each hand. The male driver subsequently identified as Javier Rueda then discharged his firearm striking one officer and second officer threw himself to the ground and he sustained injury to his arm. Both officers were able to return fire killing Rueda.
Now who was Rueda? Rueda was a hardcore gang member recently released from state prison and placed under non-revocable parole. What is non-revocable parole? An individual once released from state prison and classified as a non-violent criminal offender -- based on the crime he committed which sent him to prison -- can be placed under non-revocable parole. He also can't have a history of having been found guilty of sexual related criminal offenses, be identified as a member or associate of a prison gang or have a documented history of psychological problems. Once released on non-revocable parole they are not assigned a parole agent and if they are involved in new criminal activity a police officer is unable to obtain a no bail parole hold. Even those individuals who had prior arrests and convictions for unlawful possession of firearms and gang-related crimes could and did receive non-revocable parole status.
Beck, after finding out that Rueda was released on non-revocable parole, wrote a letter on July 14, 2010 to then-head of the California Department of Corrections, Matthew Cate, demanding an explanation as to how a violent offender like Rueda could have been released early from state prison and placed on non-revocable parole. Rueda had only completed two years of a ten-year prison sentence.
On May 3 ,2011, Culver City Police Department officers responded to a residence where they discovered 27-year old Erica Escobar and 89-year old Lucien Bergez, a WW11 deceased POW. Both died from blunt force trauma and puncture wounds. A male, 30-year old Zackariah Timothy Lehnen, was arrested for the murders and subsequently received a life without parole sentence for both murders. Lehnen, like Rueda, had been placed on non-revocable parole upon his release from state prison. Lehnen did have a prior conviction for domestic violence, though a felony conviction for domestic violence is a non-violent criminal offense.
After the murder of Erica Escobar her immediate family members had a face-to-face meeting with then state elected official Ted Lieu. It was at this meeting that Lieu stated he was against non-revocable parole but that this early release program was implemented by the California Department of Corrections. Then he stated that the AB109 early release program was 500 times worse than non-revocable parole. It was passed by our state elected officials and signed off by the governor into law.
According to Lieu, it had nothing to do with public safety but everything to do with saving taxpayer dollars, even if it meant the loss of innocent lives. Lieu then acknowledged that he voted yes for AB 109. When asked why he did this he stated that “while you are a state elected official you have to vote the way that you are told to cast your vote by those in power i.e., majority speaker of either the state senate or the head of the state assembly.” In other words, you don't take into consideration the voice of the people that you represent and who elected you to office, answer YES. I was present at this meeting.
Tobias Dustin Summers was released early from state prison under AB 09. He was classified as a low-level non-violent criminal offender. He kidnapped a 10-year old female child from her home in Northridge late at night and sexually abused her for several hours. His DNA was in CODIS (CODIS is a NATIONAL data base controlled by the FBI) and matched up to a sample taken from the victim’s shorts. Summers received a prison sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Beck stated that a $25,000 reward led to a tip as to where Summers could be located. Now Beck, by his endorsement of Gascon, is reinforcing that non-violent criminal offenders should not be incarcerated.
Earl Ellis Green was being pursued by Riverside police officer Ryan Bonamino for operating a stolen vehicle. Green ran from the stolen truck and Bonamino chased him on foot through a park in Riverside. It had rained earlier that evening. Bonamino fell on the wet grass and Green doubled back where he took control of Bonamino's firearm and shot him at point blank several times. Green was a career criminal with prior arrests and convictions for spousal abuse, vehicle theft, drug dealing, receiving stolen property and battery on a police officer. No prior convictions for violent criminal offenses.
Green was classified as a non-violent criminal offender. He was on parole for felony vandalism. Green received a death sentence. He had a tattoo on one of his hands that read BK-Blood Killer. Former Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz (Riverside Police Chief) stated, “We have an awful lot of conversations about how much it costs to keep people in prison, and very little discussion about what it costs to let them out.” Former Los Angeles Police Chief Beck has forgotten what it is like to be a police officer.
In November 2015, Ka Pasasouk was released early from state prison as a non-violent criminal offender, vehicle theft with priors. He was released under AB109. One of his victims was a LVN who resided in Eagle Rock. Both he and his companion were at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Pasasouk was found guilty for the shooting deaths of four people in Northridge and received a death sentence. Pasasouk was also a gang member.
October 31, 2010, Halloween night, 5-year old Aaron Shannon was standing in the backyard of his grandfather’s home in South Los Angeles, wearing his Spider Man costume when he was struck by gunfire and died. Leonard Hall Jr. a hardcore gang member, on parole for a non-violent criminal offense, believed that he was shooting into a rival gang member’s home. Hall was convicted on one count of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder with a gang enhancement. Both the grandfather and uncle sustained gunshot wounds. Hall received a prison sentence of 114 years to life.
In June 2013, three male transients were sitting on the sidewalk in front of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One was holding a sign asking for a donation of money. As Christine Calderon, age 23, walked by she took a photo of the sign and this angered 26-year old Dustin James Kinnear who had recently received an early release from state prison under AB 109 as a non-violent criminal offender. Kinnear then approached Calderon and they began to argue. Calderon refused to give any money to Kinnear. Kinnear then stabbed Calderon to death. Kinnear pleaded no contest to the charge of voluntary manslaughter and received a 12-year prison sentence. Once he is released from state prison he will again be classified as a non-violent criminal offender.
In December 2013, two males (at times there was a third suspect) all hardcore gang members, were on a wild armed robbery spree. They had already robbed several other convenience stores throughout the City of Los Angeles and LA County areas. On December 22, 2013, they entered the 7-11 in Highland Park late at night. After robbing the 7-11 at gunpoint, one of the two suspects subsequently identified as Rasheen Childs shot and killed the 7-11 employee, 31-year old Gonzalo Garcia, as he attempted to flee from the location. Garcia had been working extra hours so that he could afford to take his small daughter to Disneyland for Christmas. The two males were subsequently arrested. Rasheen Childs, was at the time of the armed robberies was under state parole supervision for a criminal offense classified as a low level, non-violent criminal offense. The second suspect was identified as Bryant Moore. In July 2016, Los Angeles Superior court Judge Ohta passed down sentences of life without the possibility of parole for the two defendants. In addition, Childs received 104 years plus 8 months and 19 additional years for Moore.
In July 2009, 17-year old Lily Burk had left her Los Feliz home at about 2 p.m. to drive over to the Southwestern Law school located just blocks east form Koreatown to pick up some papers for her mother who at the time was a law professor at Southwestern. Ms. Burk never made it back home. She was kidnapped and subsequently killed by 50-year old Charlie Samuel. Samuel, on the date in question, had been under State Parole supervision for the criminal offense petty theft with priors, a low-level non-violent criminal offense. Samuel had an extensive criminal arrest history with prior convictions for violent criminal offenses.
On this Friday morning, Samuel had been residing in a live-in substance abuse program. Samuel had previously avoided parole supervision so instead of sending him back to state prison for a parole violation he was enrolled in the residential substance abuse program. He was given a pass to go to the California Department of Motor Vehicles on this date. However, he never made it to the Department of Motor Vehicles, because back in 2009 the Department of Motor Vehicles offices were closed on Fridays because of mandated furlough days. Samuel admitted that he kidnapped and killed Lily Burk and received a new prison term of life without the possibility of parole.
On May 3, 2006, Los Angeles police officers responded to the location 5th Street and San Julian, a hot spot in the heart of Skid Row. On this date, witnesses observed a male identified as Gregory Hampton viciously attacking, dragging, and stomping a homeless female identified as 49-year old Kristi Marie Morales. Morales died days later as a result of the severe beating by Hampton. He was on active parole status. He had an extensive criminal arrest history too, including convictions for low- level, non-violent criminal offenses.
A press conference was held on May 9, 2006 by then Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton and CD 9 Councilwomen Jan Perry. It was to bring attention to the death of homeless woman on skid row and the severe danger to all the homeless who reside within the city of Los Angeles. Included in the press release by LAPD are the statements made by George Gascon. “Morales died from her injuries yesterday, and now Hampton will face murder charges. Hampton is a career criminal, with arrests dating back to 1970, mostly for property crimes. Hampton is “a person who refuses to play by the rules,” said Assistant Chief George Gascon. Hampton pled guilty to the murder of Ms. Morales and received a life term without the possibility of parole.
It was somewhat of a quiet afternoon at the parole office located on Alameda Avenue on Friday February 20, 2004, when suddenly all hell broke loose. A parole unit supervisor sat at his desk in his office located on the second floor of the parole complex. He was in a frozen state and staring into space. Another unit supervisor entered his office and reviewed the parole file on Kendrick William Johnson. Moments earlier a female detective from LAPD’s 77th Division had just called and notified the parole unit supervisor that Johnson had moments earlier killed a Los Angeles Police officer and had fled from the location of the shooting. Parole agents made large copies of Johnson's photos both facial and of his tattoos. LAPD had already established an emergency command center and parole agents with the photos in hand responded to the emergency command center.
LAPD officer Ricardo Lizarraga, 30 years old, had been a Los Angeles Police officer for just a little more than two years and was currently assigned to LAPD Newton Division. As he and his partner were on routine patrol, they were flagged down by a black female who stated she had been physically abused by a male friend and that he would not leave her residence. Both officers were now just over the border into 77th Division. They made the decision to assist the female. As they made contact with Johnson, Johnson pulled out a gun and shot Lizzarraga. Johnson then fled from the immediate location. Johnson was subsequently apprehended some four hours later. Johnson was a hardcore gang member with a 16-year criminal history. He was currently under state parole supervision for a low level, non-violent criminal offense. Johnson took his own life while awaiting trial for murder.
On September 12 , 2020, two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies were shot as they sat in their marked police vehicle. The individual was subsequently arrested and identified as Deonte Lee Murray. Murray has also been identified as a gang member. He has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, carjacking, possession of an illegal assault weapon, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, robbery and also with a gang enhancement charge. According to Los Angeles County Jail inmate information, Murray received a felony conviction on 02/19/2019 and received a 364 days’ local jail sentence. However, he was released early from Los Angeles County Jail on 04/10/2019. This indicates that he was classified as a low-risk criminal offender.
I can't speak for Gascon except to say that he left the City of San Francisco in a mess. Crime rate escalated. I do have a question of Gascon. How did Rudy Martinez obtain the badge of a deceased LAPD officer? And what was his role if any in an LAPD Explore Scout sex scandal back in the early 2000's? As for Beck, he has his own immediate family members who are current members of law enforcement. How would he feel if they were attacked or killed by an individual who has a criminal arrest history and/or convictions for low-level, non-violent criminal offenses?
For the past year, we have seen an increase in violent crime within the City of Los Angeles. For months both the Mayor and our current police Chief Moore and the Los Angeles Times have reported that violent crime is down. They all seem to forget that prior to George Gascon's Prop 47 and Governor Brown's Prop 57 crimes previously classified as violent, criminal offenses have been re- classified as non-violent. How can we forget about the Stanford University student who raped an unconscious student and only received a 6-month local jail sentence? And more recently, the young man who had groped females around the area of Cal State Northridge ( women fearing that they may be sexually assaulted the next time) and only received probation.
I guess the young male felt that if our President could say he wanted and grope women then he would do it and get away with it and he did. Now that is the result of George Gascon's Prop. 47, how can we forget about all of those unsolved rapes and murder cases that were solved by DNA results?
Remember that Gascon’s Prop. 47 curtailed law enforcement from obtaining DNA from those arrested individuals for non-violent, low-level criminal offenses. Was Gascon stating that only individuals who have past arrest history of violent crimes rape other people? Vote Yes on Prop. 20. Gascon is an attorney but has never tried a criminal case in a court room. Does he know the difference between reasonable doubt (criminal cases and preponderance of evidence (Civil cases)? Gascon, as the District Attorney in San Francisco, never charged a police officer from San Francisco with their involvement in officer involved shootings.
Just days ago, both Mayor Garcetti and Police Chief Moore have finally admitted that violent crime has increased significantly within our city. However, now they say the cause is COVID-19. Within hours after Moore's press conference in South Los Angeles there were yet more shootings and death -- most caused by gang violence. Are they both just plain crazy? They refuse to acknowledge that there are gang wars taking place all over the City of LA. In my Northeast area we have had at least ten shootings during the past two weeks and two of those resulted in death. Many other counties throughout the state of California have seen a major increase in both property related crimes and gang-related violent crimes (review this week’s Sacramento Bee newspapers). No other mayor, police chief, or head of various Sheriff agencies has stated it is related to COVID-19.
When you have murders and assaults in local jails and state prison facilities, it rolls down hill and becomes a Domino Effect.
(Caroline Aguirre is a retired 24-year State of California law enforcement officer, LAPD family member, community activist and Neighborhood Watch captain. Aguirre is a CityWatch contributor.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.