Premium

DA Gascon says sentencing enhancements are racist but family of black man murdered in 2018 disagrees

The families of people killed in LA County have been complaining about DA George Gascon’s decision to drop all sentencing enhancements against the people who took their relatives from them. Yesterday one of Gascon’s own Deputy DAs, who often prosecutes child abuse cases, criticized his new boss saying, “I just don’t understand why we’re not trying to prosecute child murderers to the fullest extent of the law.”

Yesterday Gascon responded to the criticism he’s been receiving by explaining that there will be no exceptions to his decision to drop enhancements, not even in the case of hate crimes. Gascon explained that sentencing enhancements are racist:

“I do believe that enhancements have driven mass incarceration in this country and I do believe that they’re racist,” he told reporters in a remote video news conference…

Gascon said any exceptions would, “swallow the rule,” and reiterated that he felt sentencing enhancements were most to blame for the state’s swelling prison population.

That explanation fell flat with the Pollard family. In 2018 Michael Pollard Jr. was allegedly murdered by Eferem Demery. According to police, Demery became angry over a dispute with Pollard and another man. He bought gasoline, spread it inside a recording studio and set the building on fire with 15 people inside.

The Los Angeles Police Department said Eferem Demery, 28, was arrested Saturday and charged on Sunday with murder. Police said in a news conference on Monday afternoon that Demery bought gasoline at a local gas station and doused the building in flames before setting it on fire.

LAPD Capt. William Hayes said Demery was involved in a dispute with the two men who were killed in the fire. The two people injured in the fire, a 20-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl, were not involved in the dispute. They remain in critical condition, authorities said.

There is apparently video of Demery setting the fire and he was facing the death penalty and his charge included “the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders.”

DA Gascon has announced he will not prosecute any death penalty cases and will also drop the special circumstances. That issue will be decided by a judge but the DA is pushing his deputies to have the special circumstances dropped. Michael Pollard’s family is not happy about it.

“It’s like he has no heart for the victims and their family,” Lodie Pollard told the I-Team Tuesday.

“It was brutal and horrific, and it still hurts every day. And my heart hurts more today of what Gascon is doing and taking away,” she said.

Pollard Jr.’s uncle Louis said he felt like Gascon’s directive had sent a message to crime victims’ families that their loved one’s lives were less valuable.

Here’s NBC 4’s report: