LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey is facing the fight of her political life. Former San Francisco District Attorney, George Gascon, is running for her job. He’s challenging her from the left, promising to be a more progressive prosecutor.
In an exclusive interview with FOX 11 anchor Elex Michaelson, Lacey responded to the critics.
“I am a progressive and a proud progressive. But I’m a progressive that implements policies in a sane & measured manner so we don’t sacrifice your safety,” Lacey said.
She continued, “The [former] District Attorney of San Francisco doesn’t care about your safety, he certainly didn’t seem to care about the safety of the people of San Francisco. He rarely talked about victims.”
Michaelson challenged Lacey on the suggestion that Gascon, a long-time Los Angeles police officer, doesn’t care about the safety of citizens.
“When he became a prosecutor, he became political. And, he changed,” she said.
Lacey was asked if she believes that Gascon is too soft on crime?
“I do. I’ll give you an example, he was not prosecuting first time DUI cases. That is unheard of in this country,” she said.
Lacey has run the district attorney’s office in Los Angeles for the past seven years. Four years ago, she wasn’t challenged during her re-election.
She said her proudest accomplishment is the creation of a conviction review unit. That group of attorneys from her office helped to free Ruben Martinez Jr. He was wrongfully convicted of a robbery 11 years ago.
“To me, that gives me as much satisfaction as the convictions I’ve gotten…I can’t tell you how emotional it was and how right it felt.”
What’s her biggest regret?
“My biggest regret that I have is I haven’t done a good enough job explaining to the community about the police shootings and why we haven’t been able to file criminal charges,” Lacey said.
She hasn’t filed any criminal charges against any L.A.P.D. officers for wrongful shootings.
In 2015, when Brendon Glenn was killed in Venice after an altercation with officers, then LAPD Chief Charlie Beck suggested that the officers be prosecuted. But Lacey didn’t file charges.
“The law is in favor of law enforcement’s use of force when they feel like life is in danger. These decisions happen in an instant. While they may have violated policy, convicting them of a crime could be very, very different,” Lacey said.
Perhaps the most controversial case during Lacey’s tenure involves Democratic donor Ed Buck.
Buck is now behind bars after a 37 year old man was allegedly injected with meth inside Buck’s West Hollywood apartment. That man overdosed, but survived.
Before that, Timothy Dean and Gemmel Moore were both found dead within a year and a half inside Buck’s West Hollywood apartment. Both died of overdoses. Buck was never charged.
Michaelson asked Lacey if she regrets that Buck wasn’t arrested earlier?
“No. Because with a prosecutor, you’re the one who has to say no…In this country, you have to have proof beyond a reasonable doubt…Every time we tried to corroborate and prove that Buck injected the victim, we couldn’t do that,” Lacey replied.
Lacey has been endorsed by Democratic leaders including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Adam Schiff, and Rep. Ted Lieu.
The Los Angeles County Democrats recently endorsed Gascon.
Lacey is well aware that her race against Gascon and former public defender Rachel Rossi could become one of the most expensive and nastiest district attorney races in American history.
She hopes voters do their homework and dig into the issues.
“I am the progressive, I’ve been a lifelong Democrat…I will implement reforms because I know what I’m doing but I will do it so we don’t see crime rates skyrocket.”