LOS ANGELES - Four people, including three gang members, were federally charged Thursday night in the murder of off-duty LAPD Officer Fernando Arroyos. Some are seeing the move as a rebuke of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón's sentencing policies.
Typically, in cases like this, the case would be sent to the DA's office. Instead, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva opted to take the case to the U.S. Attorney's office. According to the Los Angeles Times, Villanueva said that he'd contacted Gascón's office about this case but that their response was "not satisfactory."
Luis Alfredo De La Rosa Rios, 29; Ernesto Cisneros, 22; Jesse Contreras, 34; and Rios’ girlfriend Haylee Marie Grisham, 18, have been charged with violent crime in aid of racketeering, also called VICAR. That charge carries a potential death penalty sentence, with a minimum sentence of life without parole.
Gascón’s policy to not pursue sentencing enhancements in gang cases has drawn criticism, including from Villanueva and more. The Los Angeles Police Protective League applauded Villanueva's decision to bypass Gascón's office in a statement released Friday.
"Our local District Attorney George Gascón should be prosecuting these murderers to the fullest extent of the law," said LAPPL President Craig Lally. "Gascón simply doesn’t have the courage or conviction to hold soulless murdering thugs accountable."
Gascón's office hasn't responded to the criticisms, but came out in support of federal authorities taking the case. In a statement to FOX 11, Gascón special advisor Alex Bastian said that because the feds filed charges, the DA's office, "did not have an opportunity to review the case."
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