Exclusive: LA County DA-elect Gascon promises big changes, says he won't back down from protesters

KABC logo
Saturday, December 5, 2020
Exclusive: LA County DA-elect Gascon promises big changes
In an exclusive one-on-one interview with Eyewitness News anchor Marc Brown, L.A. County District Attorney-elect George Gascon said he will re-investigate police shootings and stop asking for the death penalty at sentencing. He also vowed not to back down from protesters and promised other big changes once he takes office.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The new Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon will be sworn in Monday. He'll be stepping into a job that is more politically charged than it used to be and then you throw in the pandemic, plus a $22 million budget cut on top of that. Gascon says he's ready with a raft of policy changes that he will implement on day one.

Gascon said as soon as he's sworn in, there will be big changes. Prosecutors will stop asking for the death penalty and will withdraw death penalty filings in current cases. At least four controversial police shootings will be re-investigated, and juveniles will be treated as juveniles.

"I said we will not prosecute children as adults, and I said we will do that from day one," he said.

MORE: DA-elect George Gascon plans to reopen at least 4 cases

Los Angeles County District Attorney-elect George Gascon has selected a deadly 2015 police shooting in Long Beach as one of four cases he plans to reopen.

A current case Gascon finds troubling is the shooting death of 18-year-old Andres Guardado by L.A. County sheriff's deputies. At last week's coroner's inquest into the shooting, the two deputies at the scene and the detectives investigating the shooting refused to testify.

"Extremely disappointed. I've never seen that before, where investigators are refusing to cooperate with the investigation," he said. "To take the fifth by the investigators, I find extremely troubling."

Gascon has already begun meeting with community groups of all stripes - including a somewhat contentious meeting with Black Lives Matter activists after he won the election.

"Do your job, or we will come to your house. We will come to your office," activists said.

"I pushed back hard. First of all, I'm not going to be intimidated by anybody," Gascon said.

DA-elect George Gascon sets tone for term by meeting with Black Lives Matter organizers

While current DA Jackie Lacey had a tumultuous relationship with Black Lives Matter, her successor George Gascon is already meeting with the group to discuss issues related to law-enforcement misconduct.

The former L.A. cop and former San Francisco DA has dealt with plenty of conflict before - including an incident at his San Francisco home in 2018.

"When the person called me a coward, I almost want to say the barrio came out of me. Where I grew up, those are fighting words. You can call somebody a lot of things. But you never talk about their mother, never talk about their girlfriend or call them a coward," Gascon said.

It may take political courage to pursue the agenda Gascon is advocating. Does he consider the DA job a stepping stone to higher office?

"I will never say never because I don't know...but you might say that if you look at my policies and the things that are coming out on Monday, you might say that's the end of his political career," he said.

Watch Marc Brown's full interview with Gascon in the video above.