LOS ANGELES, CA – The Los Angeles County Sheriff is formally requesting federal authorities take over prosecution for the murder of an off-duty Los Angeles Police officer.
The Sheriff has made the request because he fears that the Los Angeles District Attorney is too lenient.
Gascón sees Fernando Arroyos’ case as a “simple murder.” 😢 To his mom, family & partners nothing is “simple” about Fernando’s death. Fighting for justice and what’s right is everything to a real prosecutor. To Gascón and Soros, it’s a political footnote. https://t.co/xSaGEkk8Ft
— jonathanhatami (@jonathanhatami) January 14, 2022
The Los Angeles County Sheriff, Alex Villanueva, announced the four people who have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the murder of off-duty LAPD Officer Fernando Arroyos have been referred to federal prosecutors.
Sheriff Villanueva said the move was because he felt the response from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office was “not satisfactory.” He added to the Los Angeles Times that the response from the DA “really did not cover the depravity of this crime.”
Sheriff Villanueva noted the four people who have been taken into custody, Luis Alfredo De La Rosa Rios, Ernesto Cisneros, Jesse Contreras, and Haylee Marie Grisham are all suspected gang members and as such should have some type of criminal enhancements.
However, it appears the District Attorney has no intention of filing any type of criminal enhancements in the murder case.
The Sheriff said:
“I believe their plan was to just prosecute a simple murder with no gun enhancements, no gang enhancements, nothing.
And that really did not cover the depravity of this crime…It should be noted that the California penal code does cover all these things.
The tools are there but we need to have someone who’s willing to use them.”
Why are the Feds prosecuting the four alleged gangbangers accused in the murder of LAPD Officer #FernandoArroyos – instead of L.A. D.A. #GeorgeGascon's office? The sheriff's eye-opening response – Tonight at 11 on ABC7. https://t.co/pSCOTX3sqD pic.twitter.com/y4vq8TKII0
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) January 14, 2022
Sheriff Villanueva spoke to Fox News in December of 2021 regarding the lack of prosecution coming from LA District Attorney George Gascon’s office.
He told them that he felt the DA’s office was “careless and irresponsible” in terms of prosecuting criminal cases.
Based on Sheriff Villanueva’s comments, it appears that he has little faith that Gascon’s office would prosecute the case properly. He said:
“What we need now is, we need responsible district attorneys who are going to file their cases.
And if they want to play the role of public defender, they should just quit their job and go over to the public defenders…everything they say makes perfect sense for a public defender, not a district attorney.”
Fox News spoke to Alex Bastian who is a Special Advisor to District Attorney George Gascon about the Sheriff’s comments in relation to the murder case.
According to him, the District Attorney’s Office is claiming they never reviewed the case.
“We support the federal authorities taking the case and will be in communication with all the parties involved…It was indicated to us that the case was referred to the federal authorities, who filed charges. As such, we did not have an opportunity to review the case.”
LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore expressed that he was notified the case had been referred to federal authorities and is grateful. He said:
“It is appropriate [for federal prosecution]. I am thankful for the U.S. attorney stepping in and bringing the full weight of the government against this gang, against these individuals.”
Criminal Defense Attorney Lou Shapiro tells CBSLA that while it's rare for the federal government to pick up state crime on a local level, Sheriff Villanueva likely went to the feds in order to get the stiffest sentences possible https://t.co/zs0ok3Ukyw
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) January 15, 2022
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California did accept the case for federal prosecution.
They announced that the criminal complaint was filed against the four people for the alleged involvement in the murder of Officer Arroyos. Their statement said, in part:
“The complaint charges the four defendants with violent crime in aid of racketeering (VICAR), whereby the defendants, as consideration for the receipt of anything of value of the Florencia 13 (F13) gang, and to increase and maintain position within F13, murdered Arroyos.
F13 is a large, multi-generational street gang that previously has been the subject of federal prosecutions, including two large racketeering cases…The VICAR charge carries a potential death penalty – and minimum sentence of life in federal prison without the possibility of parole.”
Investigators have not released any of the suspect’s names.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced that four of the five people they detained hours after the shooting occurred are allegedly involved in the death of Los Angeles Police Officer Fernando Arroyos.
Those four have been taken into custody, but he has yet to release the specific charges levied against them or their names. Villanueva said:
“We’ll have more information later on what we can confirm, what individuals were arrested for, and other details, but we can’t comment further on the case right now because we’re still in the middle of investigating.”
Arroyos’ mother, Claudia Membreno, spoke about the tremendous loss she feels now that Arroyos, her only son, was murdered. She said:
“I love him too much, he’s my son, he’s my baby, he’s only one son. I don’t have a grandson who can say, ‘Grandma I love you,’ anymore. My heart is just broken because he’s only one son. And my mom just passed away one month ago.”
Membreno believes that Arroyos was shot and killed over a gold chain he was wearing. CBSLA asked Membreno what she would say to the people who are responsible for her son’s death over the jewelry:
“The first thing I would say, ‘Why?’ Because it was only for the robbery of one chain? That chain is $200. For $200, you take the life of my son? I know I have my dad and my husband but it’s different because that is my little baby.”
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office reported that Arroyos and his girlfriend were house hunting when they were approached by three men in a black truck. The three men exited the truck and at least one of them was armed with a gun.
Arroyos yelled for his girlfriend to run as he stayed behind and argued with the three suspects. At some point, at least one of the three suspects fired on Arroyos who was able to return fire with his department-issued gun.
The three suspects fled the scene as Arroyos lay dying on the sidewalk. Deputies responded and provided first aid until medics could transport him to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Shortly after the shooting, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office took five people into custody for questioning about their alleged involvement in the murder.
At least one of them had a gunshot wound to his leg that is believed to be from when Arroyos returned fire.
The Los Angeles Police Department Protective League released a statement on the death of the officer:
“This is an unfathomable loss for Fernando’s family, friends, coworkers, and Academy classmates. Now is the time to pray for Fernando’s family and his girlfriend and to keep the officers who worked daily alongside Fernando in our thoughts.”
Arroyos was a three-year member of the Los Angeles Police Department who was assigned to the Olympic Division. His girlfriend was not injured during the robbery.
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