LA Sheriff says he has NO working relationship with DA

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Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has revealed that he has only spoken to the county's new reform-minded District Attorney George Gascón once since he took office.

News | Daily Mail

LA Sheriff says he has NO working relationship with new DA and said his reforms 'embolden' the 'antifa, anarchist crowd' as city braces for BLM demonstrations

  • LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says he's had only one phone call with new DA George  Gascón since he took office in December
  • The DA took office  promising many reforms to the justice system but already has been slapped down in the courts and faces a recall effort
  • Villanueva says the lack of a 'prosecutorial fist' emboldens violent demonstrators and criminals
  • The sheriff is worried about whether violent protesters will face appropriate consequences as the city braces for demonstrations 

Los Angeles County's sheriff has revealed that he has only spoken to the county's new reform-minded district attorney once since he took office as he warns that criminals believe they will face no consequences under his tenure.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva is an outspoken critic of DA George Gascón, who won his seat this past fall on a reform agenda that Villanueva says gives comfort to criminals and shortchanges victims.

Villanueva is increasingly concerned with whether Gascón will fully prosecute any violent protesters as the city braces for possible demonstrations in the wake of the police-involved deaths of Daunte Wright in Minneapolis, 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago and the pending verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the officer involved in George Floyd's death.

'If there is a lack of prosecutorial fist, that might actually embolden some of our antifa, anarchist crowd, the radical elements, to try to hijack peaceful protest for their own personal gain or agendas', Villanueva said in an appearance on Fox 11 LA in which he said he's had only one phone call with Gascón since he took office.

LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says he's only had one phone call with the new reform-minded DA, George Gascón

LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says he's only had one phone call with the new reform-minded DA, George Gascón

Gascón is flanked by his wife Fabiola Kramsky as he is sworn in as DA on Dec. 7, 2020

Gascón is flanked by his wife Fabiola Kramsky as he is sworn in as DA on Dec. 7, 2020

Gascón is an attorney and former cop who has served as the DA of San Francisco from 2011 to 2019, as an assistant chief of police for the LAPD from 2003 to 2006, as chief of police in Mesa, Arizona from 2006 to 2009 and as the top cop in San Francisco from 2009 to 2011. 

He was elected LA's district attorney this past fall and took office in December in the wake of widespread protests against police after several cop-involved shootings over the past year.

 Upon taking office, Gascón declared that 'Those in the profession of holding people accountable cannot themselves escape accountability'. He pledged to do away with cash bail and capital punishments and promised to stop charging juveniles as adults and prosecuting most nonviolent misdemeanors. 

He also promised to reevaluate any criminal sentences were time was tacked on for alleged gang affiliation or the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime. 

Just months into his tenure, Villanueva says the evidence is in: 'It's not working. It has dire consequences for victims of crime.

'Yes there is consequence when you eliminate consequences', Villanueva said. 

'He issues 10 commandments, special directives, expects the entire world to just go with it, promises somehow it's going to work, well it's not working,' Villanueva said.

A protester throws a trash can into a fire during a protest over the death of George Floyd on May 30, 2020, in Los Angeles

A protester throws a trash can into a fire during a protest over the death of George Floyd on May 30, 2020, in Los Angeles

Firefighters put out a blaze in a looted store in Los Angeles on May 30, 2020

Firefighters put out a blaze in a looted store in Los Angeles on May 30, 2020

People march in Los Angeles on Oct. 5, 2020 in protest of the police-involved death of Johnathan Price  in Texas

People march in Los Angeles on Oct. 5, 2020 in protest of the police-involved death of Johnathan Price  in Texas

Gascón's agenda already has run into trouble in the courts. In February, a judge ruled that his plan to discontinue sentencing enhancements was unlawful, the LA Times reported.

 Judge James Chalfant ruled that California's 'three strikes' requires prosecutors to 'plead and prove' all prior felony offenses, and said Gascón didn't have the authority to tell his prosecutors not to file such enhancements.    

He also faces a recall effort. Critics have started the process and need some 800,000 signatures to force the DA out of office. 

'A lot of victims have come forward and said they feel threatened by his policies, so this is a victim- and community-led effort,' said Siannah Collado, member of the Recall George Gascon campaign. 

'I agree there needs to be some reform, but the pendulum has swung too far left. Now victims are last and criminals come first,' she said.

Villanueva agrees. He said Gascón is exceeding his authority and essentially changing laws by declining to prosecute existing statutes. The sheriff contends that the DA has 'basically legalized' prostitution by refusing to prosecute cases his office refers to him. 

LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva
District Attorney George Gascón

Villanueva, left, says there 'is consequence when you eliminate consequence'. Gascón already faces a recall effort

Villanueva accused Gascón of a go-it-alone approach and said he would be more successful if he worked with others.

'There are ways we can reform the criminal justice system in the places that need to be fixed. There is a way to do it properly where you incorporate all the stakeholders', Villanueva said.

'We want him to be successful but it can't come at the expense of public safety, at the expense of victims of crime'. 

As Los Angeles braces for more protests, Villanueva said the city was able to avoid the worst scenes of violence seen in places like Portland and Minnesota in the past year but it will 'strive to do better this time around.

'And we want to encourage people who protest peacefully,' the sheriff said. 'Do so in daylight, in places that are acceptable for that. But when the sun fades and you only see people that are dressed with helmets and shields and frozen bottles of water, rocks... if you're in that crowd and you think you're a peaceful protester, you're not. 

'Walk away and we'll deal with the people that are left behind'. 

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