Widow of slain El Monte police sergeant files $25M claim against LA County district attorney

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Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Widow of slain El Monte police sergeant files $25M claim against DA
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The family of a slain El Monte police sergeant and their attorney on Tuesday announced a $25 million legal action against the Los Angeles County district attorney and the county over the sergeant's death.

EL MONTE, Calif. (KABC) -- The family of a slain El Monte police sergeant and their attorney on Tuesday announced a $25 million claim against the Los Angeles County district attorney and the county over the sergeant's death.

Janine Paredes, the widow of police Sgt. Michael Paredes, is filing the claim against DA George Gascón.

The district attorney faced criticism following the shooting deaths of Paredes and El Monte police Officer Joseph Santana in June after it was determined that the gunman, identified as Justin William Flores, was on probation for a weapon violation that critics contended should have resulted in him being placed behind bars.

Gascón has said Flores' release was appropriate because at the time, he did not have a violent history. Police said Flores died by suicide.

"For reasons currently unknown and with overwhelming indifference, Justin Flores was allowed to continue his rampage of criminal violence against the unsuspecting people, including two dedicated police officers," attorney Mark Peacock said in a statement. "The District Attorney's Office and the County Probation Department created an opportunity for an already violent man to take the life of Michael Paredes, a beloved husband, father, friend, son and police officer."

Santana, 31, and Paredes, 42, were fatally shot June 14 outside a suburban motel.

"A man like Michael deserved better," said Janine Paredes during a press conference on Tuesday. "He deserved to be protected by policies and directives of the district attorney who had a legal obligation to ensure the safety not only of the public, but the people who serve the public. It's time that Gascón is held responsible and accountable."

Meanwhile, in a statement, the district attorney's office said it was not informed that Paredes's widow intended to file a lawsuit.

"Our hearts go out to the family of Sgt. Paredes," the statement read. "His tragic murder is a devastating loss to both his family, friends and the community he bravely served. We have nothing but empathy for those who are suffering. We were not informed that Sgt. Paredes's widow intended to file a lawsuit against our office. We have not reviewed the legal documents and cannot comment at this time. Again our heart goes out to the victims of this horrific tragedy."

The L.A. County Probation Department also issued a statement saying, "While we cannot comment on pending litigation, the men and women of the Los Angeles County Probation Department continue to extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the two heroic El Monte Police Department officers. We support and stand in solidarity with the El Monte Police Department. Our thoughts and prayers remain with them always."

Santana and Paredes were memorialized at El Monte's civic center by city residents, community leaders, family members and fellow police officers following their deaths.

At the memorial, Acting Police Chief Ben Lowry praised the fallen officers for their character and bravery, and said they would not be forgotten.

"They were the best of us. They were the greatest of us. I'm a better man having known each of them," Lowry said.

Both men were raised in El Monte, where mourners placed flowers and messages of thanks outside the police station in the city of 107,000 people. They became only the third and fourth officers in the El Monte Police Department's history to die in the line of duty.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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