Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon wants to hire a special prosecutor to review and re-evaluate police shootings with questionable use of force. On Friday, he sent an official letter to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors requesting approval to hire former Federal Prosecutor Lawrence Middleton.
According to Witness LA:
Things have progressed in the hiring process to the point that Gascón sent an official letter to the members of the county’s Board of Supervisors, asking for their authorization to hire Middleton for a four year contract, with options to extend.
“To promote public confidence in the decision-making process and the outcome of any such investigations,” he wrote to the board members, “the DA has determined the need for a Special Prosecutor to reevaluate, and if the facts support it, to criminally prosecute any officers whose actions unlawfully caused the death of the victims in those cases.”
The purpose of this initiative is to continue the county’s commitment to criminal justice, Gascón wrote in his hiring request letter (that WLA has obtained).
One would think the controversial D.A. would be focused on the departmental and legal battles he is currently facing, namely:
- The lawsuit filed by Jonathan Hatami alleging harassment and defamation;
- The lawsuit filed by the District Attorney’s Union requesting relief for Deputy District Attorneys who refuse to follow Gascon’s Special Directives.
- An injunction by a Superior Court Judge restricting Gascon from implementing his Special Directives because they are a violation of the Penal Code and State law.
NEW: Under new D.A. George Gascon’s reforms, I’ve confirmed his office is trying to dismiss all enhancements & special circumstances against the alleged double murderer/cop killer accused of shooting LASD deputy Gilbert Solano in the back of his head. His sister is irate. @FOXLA pic.twitter.com/SxnPiOuRPG
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) December 15, 2020
Not to mention just doing the job of the County District Attorney by closing open murder cases and bringing real justice to the victim’s families. However, this is not this D.A.’s current focus; his focus is being a social justice champion, putting so-called racial equity above real justice, and embedding progressive reforms in the criminal justice system that prioritize the criminals above the victims. One of the many reasons why he must be Recalled.
Prison inmate threatens to attack guard in LA County to fall under Gascón’s jurisdiction for resentencing https://t.co/fOrguea2mm
— Gail Gordon 🎼🔯🎼 (@Gailrgordon) February 17, 2021
Gascon’s choice of Middleton is no doubt due to Middleton’s work on the federal civil rights case against the LAPD officers charged with violating the constitutional rights of Rodney King. King was at the center of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, after the LAPD officers who beat King senseless after a DUI traffic stop were initially acquitted of the use of force charges. For his work on the King case, Middleton won the U.S. Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award.
Middleton went on to serve with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California for 29 years as a federal prosecutor and as Chief of the Criminal Division, Chief of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section, and Chief of the Public Corruption and Government Fraud Section.
More recently, Middleton supervised the prosecution of the corruption and civil rights abuses by former Sheriff Lee Baca, former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, and members of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.
So Middleton has the stomach and experience to dig deeper into officer-involved shootings, and is unafraid of prosecuting law enforcement.
Middleton left government service in 2019 to go into private practice, so this choice brings up some troubling questions which the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors needs to address before giving approval.
- Why is Middleton interested in returning to public service?
- Gascon was the San Francisco District Attorney while Middleton served in the Central District. What was their relationship during that period?
- Is there conflict of interest or bias in this choice?
Gascon has a working list of particular cases where he wants Middleton to begin his investigations. Gascon complied this list by asking a retired judge and a former senior trial attorney under President Obama’s Department of Justice’s civil rights division to review a number of concerning cases where officers used fatal force.
We know what the eight years of an Obama DOJ did to criminal justice; so, while unsurprising for Gascon, this is not heartening news.