Two Los Angeles Police Department officers accused of fatally shooting a fellow officer appeared in federal court Friday. The case is significant because it could set new legal precedents for the use of force by law enforcement and even have implications on how police departments across the country are trained to respond to situations involving suspects they believe may be armed.
(CBSLA) – LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The three men accused in the shooting murder of 27-year-old Los Angeles Police Officer Fernando Arroyos are members of a known street gang, according to federal authorities, and the woman apprehended is an acquaintance and one of the men’s girlfriend.
Fernando Arroyos, an off-duty Los Angeles police officer, was shot and murdered during an attempted robbery in South L.A. on Jan. 10, 2022.
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“We have a multi-generational criminal street gang here.” “It’s been a problem in the neighborhood, in the Newton area, for decades,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said.
In an attempted armed robbery in South LA, an off-duty LAPD officer was shot and killed.
Arroyos, who was off-duty at the time, was home looking with his girlfriend in South LA just after 9 p.m. on Monday when the accusations were filed.
According to the criminal complaint, suspect Luis Rios said that he and his friends were trying to “earn money,” which is a slang word for robberies. According to the complaint, defendant Ernesto Contreras urged him to “grab the chain,” a reference to the jewelry Arroyos was wearing.
The girlfriend, Haylee Grisham, is stated in the complaint as alleging that Ernesto Cisneros, 22, aimed the revolver at the officer and told him to “give him the shackles.” Rios ran back to the vehicle, she added, after hearing numerous gunshots.
Officer Arroyos was killed after being shot during a gunfight. The culprits were apprehended two days later after a lengthy search.
Normally, police would present their case to prosecutors at the district attorney’s office in a situation like this. However, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva revealed why his detectives brought the case to the US Attorney’s Office instead at a press conference Thursday night.
“We absolutely spoke with the local DAs, and their reaction was unsatisfactory.” At the press conference, Villanueva said, “Their aim was to pursue a basic murder with no gun enhancements, no gang enhancements, nothing.” “That didn’t even come close to describing the heinousness of the act.”
Chief Moore also said that he believes federal charges are appropriate.
“Federal charges in this instance, with the full and complete force and weight of the federal government, are earned, appropriate, and regardless of what the district attorney does or does not do, I’m pleased that the matter was submitted to federal authorities, who filed charges,” Moore said.
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Moses Castillo, an advocate for the Arroyos family, said the family of the dead officer was concerned that District Attorney George Gascón would not pursue the four defendants as aggressively as the US Attorney’s office.
“He planned to prosecute just the bare minimum, murder.” Castillo, a veteran LAPD officer, remarked, “Nothing more, nothing less.”
In response, Gascón’s office sent the following statement to CBSLA:
“We fully support the federal authorities’ investigation into the situation and will keep in touch with all parties involved.” We were told that the matter had been forwarded to federal officials, who had filed charges. As a result, we didn’t have a chance to look into the situation.”
LA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA George Gascón reverses course and plans to seek sentencing enhancements in certain cases.
According to criminal defense attorney Lou Shapiro of CBSLA, the federal government seldom picks up state wrongdoing on a local level. According to Shapiro, in this instance, law enforcement went to the feds to obtain the worst punishments imaginable.
“If it had been simply the state, it would have been a 25-to-life situation.” They could have been able to flee before the 25-year mark. “By going to the government, they’re possibly exposing themselves to the death sentence under the RICO act,” he said.
Another criminal defense attorney, Alexandra Kazarian, said it would be proper legal etiquette to present the case to both local and federal prosecutors while also providing information on Gascón’s procedures.
“George’s stance is that we don’t need any more modifications,” she said. “If someone have life without parole, they don’t need to be sentenced to 175 years to life.”
Shapiro also feels that law enforcement is sending a message to criminals that such behavior will no longer be tolerated.
“Federal judges are not accountable to voters.” “Putting it in the hands of a federal court allows the judge unlimited discretion to punish the defendants as he or she sees fit,” the criminal defense lawyer said.
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Contreras and Rios, two of the suspects in Arroyo’s killing, appeared in federal court on Friday and were ordered detained without release, with arraignments planned for February 3. If found guilty, all four defendants will face the death sentence.