LA County Deputy DA Jonathan Hatami announces bid to unseat DA George Gascón

Wednesday, March 29, 2023
LA County Deputy DA announces bid to unseat DA George Gascón
A Los Angeles County deputy district attorney has announced he is running for office in an attempt to to unseat embattled L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón in 2024.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A Los Angeles County deputy district attorney has announced he is running for office in an attempt to unseat embattled District Attorney George Gascón in 2024.

Jonathan Hatami gained national prominence as a prosecutor who worked on murder trials in connection with the killings of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez and 10-year-old Anthony Avalos.

As a child abuse survivor himself, Hatami finds those cases are personal and those victories are propelling him to think bigger.

RELATED: Los Angeles prosecutor Jon Hatami reveals trauma of abuse, kidnapping

"I would make sure that we're prosecuting serious and violent crime," he told Eyewitness News. "I would make sure that everybody in L.A. knows they're going to be held accountable if they commit crimes. But I also want to let individuals know who are committing lower level crimes that we want to find a path to success."

In his list of priorities, Hatami said he would send deputy district attorneys back to parole hearings, add gun violence enhancements, and allow zero bail only for lower level misdemeanors.

"Can we improve and reform cash bail? 100%. But that doesn't mean you throw it out and just have no bail," he said.

It is a direct reference to his counterpart and boss, Gascón, who won in 2020 on progressive criminal justice reform.

Gascón initially prohibited prosecutors from seeking cash bail for defendants charged with nonviolent crimes, which Hatami said included certain domestic violence and child abuse charges.

Gascón reversed course by lifting that order in May 2022, amid a heated recall campaign. However, the attempt to recall Gascón failed after organizers were unable to collect sufficient, valid petition signatures to place the proposal before voters.

It was the second attempt to qualify a recall election that could remove Gascón after an initial attempt failed in 2021.

"When George Gascón ran for DA, he supported defunding the police & eliminating Metro & school police," Hatami said Saturday on Twitter. "He continuously pushed dangerous rhetoric endangering the lives of many officers. His team called police 'barbarians & referred to them as 'killers.'"

The echoes of disapproval linger, including in a lawsuit Hatami has filed, alleging Gascón defamed him, denied him promotions and discriminated against him for speaking out.

The tension between the two is unavoidable.

"That is what it's going to be. It's going to be Hatami versus George Gascón, and people are going to have to decide," he said.

"That's why I'm running, which is separate from a lawsuit," said Hatami when asked if the lawsuit felt "too personal."

"I don't think that I'm running because I'm mad at George Gascón for any specific reason."

He said he wants to keep the messages separate regarding how he feels about the man who serves L.A. County and the man who leads a workplace.

"As an employee, I need to stand up for myself, make sure that I'm able to do my job," said Hatami.