KLTA reporter Kareen Wynter sat down with embattled Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón for a rare one-on-one interview Thursday, covering topics including the Kobe Bryant crash photos lawsuit, his approach to juvenile justice, increasing violent crime, and whether he intends to run for another term.
On Violent Crime:
Kareen: “When you look at crime, with homicides up, hate crimes, shootings at an all-time high, what do you say to those who believe your policies have contributed to that?
Gascón: “The increases in crime that have occurred in L.A. in some cases actually have been less so than other parts of the country. In fact, we have seen jurisdictions near us with very conservative, very traditional prosecutors, having greater per capita increases in violence than we have…Here, our felony prosecutions have continued at the same rate.”
Kareen: “Does it hurt your message, though, as the county’s top prosecutor, when you see videos online of inmates recording themselves, convicted murders, praising your policies, thinking that they’re going to get out early?”
Gascón: “This is where I accept, I have to do better at communicating. We understand that there is a lot of information floating out there, a lot of misinformation. The reality is, when you get right down to it, even some of the people praising the policies, they have faced very, very severe consequences. The outcome of their cases are not necessarily anything to— nothing was given away. They’re spending, for some of them, will never get out of prison. My failure, and I readily admit that, during the first year, was communicating more effectively internally and externally. when there’s a vacuum of information, you have to fill it.”
On the recent fatal shooting of Monterey Park police officer Gardiel Solorio, allegedly by a man who spent just one month in jail this year despite being charged with several serious violent crimes.
Kareen: “Do you bear some of the responsibility for that officer’s death?”
Gascón: “Not at all, and here’s why. First of all, my heart goes out to the family. One of the things that we did, as we always do, is reached out to the family really early on. The sister and the fiancée spent time with me and the chief of police. We provided services, helped them in a variety of ways and will continue to do so. The three individuals, including one juvenile in this case, were all charged with murder. There was a guy in this case who had a domestic violence incident before—”
Kareen: “Assault, intimidating a witness, some of those charges dropped. Why was a plea deal struck?”
Gascón: “There are two components to this. The domestic violence incident, a very experienced prosecutor looked at the case and he charged accordingly and with consultation with the victims. He was given 180 days in jail, four years of felony probation, 10 year stay-away order from the victim and a year of domestic-violence classes. When our prosecutors are charging cases, they’re looking at the electronic records of the person…There was a notation about the informal resolution to a prior incident, and there was nothing else in it. He charged the case based on that information. It later became known that he had a prior strike that was not in the system, but that is not the fault of the filing deputy, who happens to be very experienced doing this work.”
Watch the full interview in the video player above.