Los Angeles District Attorney (DA) George Gascón said Friday that he will not pursue the death penalty for a gang member who killed a police officer and his cousin, and wounded another officer, according to a Fox News report.
Officer Keith Boyer was shot and killed by Christopher Mejia while responding to a routine traffic collision. He was not aware that Mejia, 30, had just murdered his cousin, Roy Torres. Officer Patrick Hazell was shot in the abdomen but survived.
Deputy DA Garrett Dameron told Fox LA at a hearing at Norwalk Courthouse that he was ordered to remove the death penalty consideration despite his and fellow deputy DA Geoff Lewis’ objections. The decision marks a reversal of prosecutors’ 2018 announcement that they would seek the death penalty and comes only two months after Gascón was sworn into office.
Whittier Police Chief Aviv Bar and two of the victim’s family members spoke at the hearing. Chief Bar asked for all charges and penalties to remain in place, and the families are continuing to seek justice.
Officer Boyer’s son, Josh Boyer, said that the day his father died was the worst of his life, and said he is “wanting some justice.”
Don Clark, Boyer’s stepfather, called Gascón’s decision “a punch in the gut.” He added, “People don’t realize how hard it is on the families. What Gascon is doing – not only to our family, but the cousin’s family – to so many other families, is absolutely horrendous.”
Mejia is charged with murder counts, attempted murder, carjacking, and possession of a firearm by a felon with two prior convictions. The self-admitted gang member did not display remorse following the murder, saying during a taped interview with police that “all three of them had it coming,” and that he didn’t feel sorry. He said, “They just got a taste of an L.A. gang member.”
Mejia was shot in the back as he attempted to flee. He told detectives afterwards that the officers did not have their guns drawn when they approached, saying if they did, “it would have been a whole different ball game.”
Officer Boyer is the first officer of Whittier Police Department to be killed in the line of duty in 37 years. Fox News is still awaiting comments from the LA DA’s office.