Protesters demand LA County DA Gascón prosecute police officers involved in fatal shootings, arrests

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Saturday, February 4, 2023
Protesters demand Gascón prosecute police involved in fatal encounters
Activists are demanding L.A. County DA George Gascón hold police accountable for recent deadly encounters.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Families of men who died during arrests in Southern California staged a protest outside the offices of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón Friday, calling for him to prosecute the officers who were involved in those deaths.

"District Attorney Gascón campaigned specifically on the promise that he would hold police officers accountable," said Cliff Smith of the Coalition for Community Control Over the Police. "He's been in office for more than two years now and has fallen well short of this promise."

LAPD officers were involved in three fatal use-of-force cases in just two days during the first week of January. Last week, Huntington Park police officers shot and killed Anthony Lowe, a disabled man in a wheelchair who they say was wielding a knife.

RELATED: Lawsuit expected against Huntington Park police in shooting of double amputee

The family of Anthony Lowe, a disabled man shot and killed by Huntington Park police officers last week, is expected to file a lawsuit against the city.

Those cases prompting family members to fill the sidewalk in front of Gascon's office and demand charges against the officers, pointing to the quick action Memphis prosecutors took in charging the five police officers accused of killing Tyre Nichols.

"Prosecute these killer cops," said Najee Ali, a local civil rights activist. "If they can do it in Memphis, Tennessee we can do it in LA."

A representative for Gascón's office met with the demonstrators and told them the district attorney is paying attention to the cases and the families who lost loved ones.

"I am not here to defend," said Tiffiny Blacknell, a spokesperson for Gascón. "I am not here to make excuses. I'm here to hear people out and answer whatever questions they have for me."

But law experts say as hard as it is to charge police officers, it is even harder to convict them.

"It happens, but it happens very rarely given the number of uses-of-force and use-of-lethal force," said Dan Simon, a professor of law and psychology at the University of Southern California.

Simon says prosecutors are often faced with a complicated series of obstacles when trying to charge law enforcement officers, including police unions, inaccurate police reports and public sympathy.

"When you are wearing a badge and you are acting under the color of the law, you should actually abide by higher standards, but in effect what really happens is that you almost get a free pass for misconduct," Simon said.