A California man accused of killing two police officers may have avoided additional prison time for previous charges because of a directive issued by Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon upon taking office.
Justin William Flores is accused of killing El Monte police officers Michael Parades and Joseph Santana in a shootout on Tuesday. He was shot and killed in the shootout.
Flores had a previous strike conviction and revived two years’ probation for a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm and for possession of narcotics for personal use.
Under former Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey, prosecutors sought 32 months in prison for Flores’ gun charge.
But in December 2020, Gascon took office and issued Special Directive 20-08, which states that "any prior strikes will not be used for sentencing and shall be dismissed or withdrawn … and if the charged offense is probation eligible, probation shall be the presumptive offer."
Sources from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office told Fox News that Flores’ offer was revised in accordance with Gascon’s directive, allowing him to plead no contest and receive a lighter sentence despite being a gang member and having a strike on his criminal record.
Gascon has recently been taken to task by a state appeals court over his refusal to prosecute three-strike cases. Earlier this month, a California appeals court upheld an injunction that said Gascon can’t refuse to charge three-strike cases, which can significantly increase prison sentences.
The DA’s office told Fox News the sentence Flores received last year "was consistent with case resolutions for this type of offense given his criminal history and the nature of the offense. At the time the court sentenced him, Mr. Flores did not have a documented history of violence."
Flores served two stints in state prison for vehicle theft and burglary, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and was most recently released in 2012.
Gascon's office later confirmed to The Los Angeles Times they have restricted access to Flores' case file in effort to avoid leaks and that special permission is now needed for prosecutors access the file.
The controversial district attorney is facing a recall effort for his policies – the second such organized effort since he came into office. This week, organizers said the campaign had gathered enough signatures to put the matter before voters. Progressive Democrat San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin was overwhelmingly recalled by voters in that city this month.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.