El Monte votes ‘no confidence’ against LA DA George Gascon

Elected officials in the California city that lost two police officers in a shooting last week have unanimously issued a vote of “no confidence” against embattled Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon — becoming the 35th city in the Golden State to do so.

“We believe that D.A. Gascon’s policies have now been shown to be detrimental to public safety in El Monte and Los Angeles County, and also detrimental to the goal we share, or rehabilitating people away from criminal activity, as shown by the high failure rate of D.A. Gascon’s policy of not holding people accountable for their criminal acts,” stated a resolution affirming El Monte City Council’s 5-0 vote Tuesday night.

The resolution pointed a finger of blame at Gascon’s “Special Directives” to reform prosecutions in LA County, claiming that the policies have undermined the criminal justice system — and contributed to the killings of El Monte Police Department Corporal Michael Paredes, 42, and officer Joseph Santana, 31 on June 14.

A makeshift memorial for El Monte Police officers Corporal Michael Paredes (right) and Officer Joseph Santana is displayed in front of El Monte City Hall.
Keith Birmingham/The Orange County Register via AP
Family members of El Monte Police Officer Michael Paredes grieve at a makeshift memorial for him and Officer Joseph Santana at El Monte City Hall and police station
Family members of El Monte Police Officer Michael Paredes grieve at a makeshift memorial for him and Officer Santana.
Sarah Reingewirtz/The Orange County Register via AP

“D.A. Gascon’s poorly vetted policies allowed a career criminal and known gang member to walk the streets freely following a lenient 2021 plea deal,” the City Council argued.

LA County Senior Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami, one of Gascon’s most vocal critics, applauded El Monte for affirming the “no confidence” vote.

“Thank you El Monte for supporting victims, families, children and the families of Officers Santana and Paredes!” Hatami tweeted.

Justin William Flores
Flores’ criminal history included two prison terms for vehicle theft and burglary.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP

The El Monte City Council took the vote just hours after Gascon, who is facing a possible recall, held a press conference to defend his office’s handling of a prior drug and weapons case against suspected cop killer William Flores.

“In this particular case, the history of the suspect, Mr. Flores, did not contain any evidence of violence,” Gascon said. “He was basically someone who had been drug addicted for many years.”

Investigators said the 35-year-old was out on probation stemming from his 2021 plea deal when he shot and killed Paredes and Santana as they were responding to a domestic violence call at a motel.

Scene of the shooting
El Monte became the 35th California city to issue a vote of “no confidence” against Gascon.
Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Time
Memorial for the fallen El Monte officers
The resolution claimed Gascon’s policies contributed to the killings of El Monte Police Department Corporal Michael Paredes, 42, and officer Joseph Santana, 31 on June 14.
VCG via Getty Images

Flores took his own life as backup police officers closed in on him.

Gascon said that Flores “could have gone to jail,” had his firearm possession case gone to trial, but under the conditions of his plea agreement, he was sentenced to two years of probation and 20 days in jail.

The DA told reporters the possession of a firearm is not considered a violent crime.

“He was arrested for possession of drugs and possession of a gun, not the use of a gun,” Gascon said. “Under the circumstances, I believe it was an appropriate outcome.”

Flores’ criminal history included two prison terms for vehicle theft and burglary — the latter stemming from the theft of a television set from his grandparents’ home while high on drugs. He was most recently released in 2012.

Last week, Santana’s mother, Olga Garcia, blamed her son’s death on Gascon, calling his criminal justice reform policies “insane” and accusing the top prosecutor of granting more rights to criminals than police officers.