LOS ANGELES, CA – The mother of a Los Angeles Police officer who was killed while off-duty back in 2019 is pushing for George Gascón’s office to take into consideration aggravating factors against the two suspects charged with her son’s murder.
Officer Juan Jose Diaz was a young Los Angeles police officer gunned down while off duty at a taco stand. He was memorialized by his chief for his big smile, bright mind and devotion to public service. Rest in Peace. pic.twitter.com/P3ekrTB07J
— spacewoman reporter (@SpacewomanR) August 13, 2019
Rocío Díaz is the mother of Officer Juan José Díaz, a 24-year-old LAPD officer who lost his life merely two years into his career during the early morning hours of July 27th, 2019.
The fallen officer’s mother recounted the day she was told her son had been killed:
“An officer came to give me the news that my son had been killed.”
Officer Diaz had been reportedly shot within the Lincoln Heights area near 26th Avenue and Humboldt Street.
Prior to the shooting, Officer Diaz had approached a suspected gang member he’d witnessed graffitiing in the area and told the suspect to stop.
Sometime thereafter, the suspect had garnered a group of people and came back to the area where Officer Diaz was – fatally shooting the officer.
Police later arrested two suspects in August of 2019 believed to be involved in Officer Diaz’s murder, with the suspects identified as 20-year-old Christian Facundo and 24-year-old Francisco Talamantes.
Major Cities Chiefs Association Remembers @LAPDHQ Officer Juan Jose Diaz
— Major Cities Chiefs Association (@MjrCitiesChiefs) May 14, 2020
Detectives say that the two suspects had been involved in a series of crimes for roughly 90 minutes prior to killing Officer Diaz. To this day, the fallen officer’s mother struggles with trying to understand why her son had to be killed over something so trivial:
“Why did you kill my son?”
Now, the mother is urging prosecutor George Gascón to consider all the aggravating factors in this case. When asked about what she’d like to see happen to the two men accused of murdering her son, Diaz stated”
“That they receive their punishment for having hurt my son. I suffer every day from not being able to see my son…the anxiety, the desire to hug my son.”
George Gascón’s office gave the following statement regarding the case lodged against the suspects in Officer Diaz’s murder:
“The senseless death of Officer Diaz was tragic and egregious. Our office will be seeking appropriate justice and prosecuting with charges that carry life in prison if they are convicted.”
With regard to the suspects Talamantes and Facundo, Officer Diaz’s mother said that “the mothers of those boys have the illusion of seeing them and of being able to hug them one day and I won’t.”
At her home, Diaz can see the unfinished pick-up truck that her son had been working on prior to his murder– serving as a constant reminder of her loss.
The sister of the fallen officer, Sarahy Diaz, has expressed disdain for Gascón’s office, since the recently elected district attorney has taken a strong stance against enabling sentence enhancements – which the two suspects in the murder were originally charged with gang enhancements that would’ve put the death penalty on the table:
“With the new DA, it’s become a little harder for the victims. We now feel like we are the ones that did something wrong, when we’re just literally trying to fight for our brother. He did nothing wrong.”
Gascón’s office has been the subject of intense scrutiny over his agenda to see sentencing enhancements go by the wayside – which has since come to the point where his own office is getting taken to court by the Association of Deputy District Attorneys .
Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters? Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you. Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories. Click to check it out.
We at Law Enforcement Today recently reported on this striking development back in January in the ongoing controversy within the DA’s office.
Here’s that previous report.
LOS ANGELES, CA- After an entire month of suffering under the radical leadership of newly appointed Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, the Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) have filed a lawsuit against their boss in an attempt to force him to uphold the law.
JUST IN: The union representing LA County prosecutors filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday challenging newly seated District Attorney George Gascón's directives to eliminate three-strikes allegations https://t.co/po0dd0uNov
— FOX 11 Los Angeles (@FOXLA) December 30, 2020
According to the ADDA and their lawsuit:
“The suit asks that District Attorney George Gascón follow California state constitutional and statutory law. These laws, enacted by the voters and the state legislature, tested and deemed constitutional by the judiciary, must be respected by the executive.”
The suit, which has been filed by the union representing about 800 prosecutors, is alleging that Gascón has ignored laws mandated by constitutional and statutory authority. The ADDA is seeking a write of mandate from the court, which would compel Gascón to rescind several of his new policies, declaring them “invalid and illegal.”
Los Angeles – Prosecutors to Ask Court to Stop Some of New District Attorney's Reform Directives. The union representing LA County deputy district attorneys has informed George Gascon it intends to seek a restraining order. https://t.co/3XrtEfocrA #cjreform
— Prison_Health (@Prison_Health) December 30, 2020
Gascón had campaigned on a judicial reform platform and immediately acted on his campaign promises once he took office. He ordered his prosecutors, the deputy district attorneys to drop all sentencing enhancements, such as gang affiliation during the commission of the crime or using a firearm.
The president of the ADDA said in a statement:
“While an elected District Attorney has wide discretion in determining what charges to pursue in an individual case, that discretion does not authorize him to issue blanket policies that violate established law.”
Sentencing enhancements are intended to act as extra punishments, added on to the charge of an underlying offense. Gascón’s special directives, such as ending those enhancements, are his idea of increasing public safety “without over incarcerating.”
However, after a national outcry, Gascón later amended that policy, allowing enhancements for cases involving “the must vulnerable victims,” including hate-motivated crimes, child abuse, and human sex trafficking.
There are still more than 100 enhancements in California’s penal code. Prosecutors are still barred from pursuing them for allegations of using a handgun in a crime, defendants listed in the state’s gang database, or for having prior felony convictions. ADDA Vice President Eric Siddall said:
“Los Angeles County prosecutors have been placed in an impossible position. Do we follow our legal and ethical responsibilities and risk getting disciplined, even fired, by our new boss? Or do we follow his policy directives and risk losing our California State Bar Cards and by extension, our ability to practice law anywhere in the state? We’re asking a court to answer those questions.”
The Los Angeles Times reported that the union argued that prosecutors should pursue or forgot sentencing enhancements using “case-by-case discretion,” basing their decisions on the circumstances of a crime and a defendant, not a “rubber stamp blanket prosecutorial policies barring the wholesale enforcement of criminal laws.”
Prosecutors' Union Files Civil Lawsuit Over DA's New Directives https://t.co/kBvFHwoSMo
— NBC Los Angeles (@NBCLA) December 31, 2020
The union asserted that Gascón’s prohibition on enhancements for prior strikes violates the state’s three-strikes law, which in the union’s view, requires prosecutors to seek longer sentences for defendants with previous convictions.
The union also contended that Gascón, a local executive branch official, is encroaching on the authority of the courts in ordering his deputies to move to withdraw enhancements allegations.
If a judge refuses those motions, as several have in recent weeks, line prosecutors have been instructed to file new charging documents without the enhancements.
In doing so, the union argued that the district attorney’s office is making an end-run around the court’s authority. Gascón did not end all sentencing enhancements and his plan to do so along with other elements of his progressive agenda, have been met with immediate resistance.
In a statement provided to The Daily Wire, Gascón said:
“Data shows these harsh tactics compromise our community’s long-term health and safety, create more hardened criminals and victims, and therefore are not in the interests of justice.
After a summer of unrest, Los Angeles County voters embraced this new, modern approach.”
“The will of the voters must not be mistaken as a commentary on the hundreds of Deputy DAs who labor, day in and day out, to protect the public. They are public servants who have earned our utmost respect and gratitude.”
“They certainly have mine and a sincere invitation to join me in making these much-needed changes. As we’ve seen in recent weeks, this new approach will take some fine-tuning and a tolerance for chance.
I invite open and respectful debate based on facts, however, the people have spoken, the direction is clear and in the end, we all want the same things..safety and equal justice under the law.”
— Arash Hashemi 🏛 (@HashemiLaw) December 30, 2020
The ADDA a court order that would compel Gascón to rescind the directives and declare them “invalid and illegal,” as well as a temporary restraining order that would bar Gascón and his administration from enforcing the directives.
On December 30th, a judge denied the temporary restraining order that was requested in the suit. This is not the same as dismissing a case.
A judge instructed Gascón’s lawyers to submit written arguments for why he should not be enjoined from enforcing the contested directives and set a hearing on the issue for February 2nd. Gascón has until January 15th to file papers supporting his position.
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.
Make sure you click “following” and then click “see first” so you don’t miss a thing! (See image below.) Thanks for being a part of the LET family!