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Less than a week after video surfaced of a Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee into the neck of George Floyd, the man challenging Jackie Lacey for the office of Los Angeles County district attorney attempted to connect the tragic case to her record of failing to prosecute killings by police.

By late June, after weeks of unrest and protests over Floyd’s death that included demands for her resignation, Lacey joined other L.A. County law enforcement leaders in calling for the creation of a task force to investigate future police killings, a possible nod to criticisms that internal reviews are biased toward police.

The November contest between Lacey and former San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascón to oversee the nation’s largest prosecutor’s office had already been framed as a test of appetites for criminal justice reform, with Gascón the flag-bearer for a nationwide movement to elect progressive prosecutors and Lacey representing a more traditional approach to crime and punishment.

But with hundreds of thousands protesting police brutality nationwide and the phrase “defund the police” moving from the fringes to a topic of debate for the L.A. City Council, the race is now being reshaped largely around which candidate is best poised to hold law enforcement accountable.

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