Gascón Goes Easy on Another Cop Killer
Last December, newly elected Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón made headlines by dropping the special circumstances allegations for Rhett Nelson, a criminal who shot and killed off-duty LA Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Solano and another man during a 2019 crime spree. This prevented the cop-killer from receiving a sentence of life-without-parole and makes him eligible for release in 20 years. Last Thursday, Gascón’s office ordered the dropping of special circumstances for Michael Mejia, an habitual felon gang member who in February of 2017, killed his cousin in order to steal his car and then gunned down a responding police officer, killing him and injuring his partner. City News Service reports that dropping the specials in this case protects Mejia from being sentenced to death, and also gives him parole eligibility.
Mejia has benefited significantly from the criminal justice reforms initiated by former Governor Jerry Brown and supported by current Governor Gavin Newsom and progressive DA Gascón. In 2016, Mejia was granted early release from Pelican Bay State Prison, where the most dangerous gang members are housed. Although Mejia had violent felonies on his record, under Jerry Brown’s AB 109 (“Public Safety Realignment”) he was eligible for early release because his most recent conviction was for auto theft, which is not considered a serious crime. Prior to Realignment, a gang-affiliated criminal with Mejia’s record would have been released on state parole, under the supervision of an armed parole officer who could have him sent straight back to prison for violating conditions such as staying away from drugs, avoiding gang members and guns and refraining from committing crimes. But under Realignment, Mejia was released on probation under light supervision and ineligible for prison for violating his conditions or committing any new crimes not considered violent. Between his release in April 2016 and his arrest for murdering his cousin and officer Keith Boyer on February 20, 2017, Mejia had violated his probation 4 times and never spent more than ten days in county jail. There are several thousand repeat offenders like Mejia free on the streets because of Realignment. When one of them murders a victim during a robbery, rape or carjacking, or even kills a police officer, if he’s in Los Angeles, he can count upon District Attorney Gascón to protect him from the full consequences of his crimes.